Last week France passed a law that permits the state to seize authors’ rights on books published before 2001.
No burden of proof is to be laid on the publisher. This overturns the basic principle of copyright, under which the rights are assumed to remain with the author unless someone else can prove that the rights have been assigned to them or they hold an exclusive licence that has not terminated.
“Waking up one morning, go online, see a publisher with whom one has cut ties 30 years [ago, now advertising and selling] your book, and learn that we can do anything about it, this is what awaits many contemporary authors of books with this law … And they call us pirates?” Said Marcel Baptiste, secretary of the Pirate Party.
This is an absolute outrage.
That any State would even dream of trying to do this is astonishing and beyond belief.
While writers are hamstrung left and right in opting-out, dig this: A publisher assigned by the State gets a ten-year exclusive license for an eBook edition and has up to three years to stall before issuing one! Three years!!
If this is not beaten down aggressively, there is no hope anywhere in the world for any of us.
Can you imagine the outrage in the tech world if France passed a similar law for software and tried to claim all rights, say, for pre-2001 editions of Windows or the pre-OS X Macintosh OS and all software that ran on them?