France’s Book Grab: Worse Than Google Books

France: All your books are belong to us

Last week France passed a law that permits the state to seize authors’ rights on books published before 2001.

France Guillotines Copyright

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.

Google English: [Politics] unavailable Books: Pirates of the amendments to defend the authors!

“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?

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “France’s Book Grab: Worse Than Google Books

  1. Geoff-UK

    The very meaning of the word “outrage” is starting to fade away. When you believe the rule of law in this world can’t be raped any harder, along comes a smelly group of Frenchmen with ashy Gaulloises dangling from their thin lips to rudely shove your expectations across the table yet again.

    • mikecane

      Yes. It’s as if all of those in power are deliberately provoking revolution.

    • LCNR

      This comment is offensive and racist. I was surprised not to find a single comment challenging it on those grounds.
      I am only now discovering this new law the French parliament passed back in February; I follow e-book-related news pretty closely, but this particular piece of legislation seems to have escaped my notice (then again, February was a particularly hectic month, so it is not all that surprising). For Geoff-UK’s information, this act was passed unanimously by both chambers, i.e. by a total of 925 Frenchmen AND -women, 577 of whom were directly elected by the French people. (And then of course there were the lobbies, the lawyers, the government…) I have just read the act (in the original); it is far from limpid, to say the least, but Geoff-UK’s comment is surprisingly unhelpful in furthering either its understanding or the case against it in any constructive way.
      By the way, the act apparently fulfils all formal requirements under French (and international, for that matter) law, so the rule of law was NOT violated in any way (unless, if you believe in the substantive approach, the French Constitutional Council should rule that it is unconstitutional — provided an appeal is lodged, of which I cannot find any evidence). In any case, I appreciate Geoff-UK’s attempt to be a sport and recognise French superiority over the rest of the world, but I believe he is sadly mistaken in this case. Still, there is a bright side: seeing that those criminals are such a recognisable lot, we won’t be fooled next time.
      (Oh, and when is the last time you saw a French person with a Gauloise dangling from their lips? And that’s “Gauloise” with one “l”, by the way — which goes to show you should do your research before you start insulting a people.)

      LCNR

      • mikecane

        The French are a race? I think you lost most people right there.

      • LCNR

        Ah, a little pedantry is called for, here. I used “racist” in the extended sense: “a person who is prejudiced against people of other nationalities” (OED).

      • mikecane

        OK, you meant prejudiced or bigoted then. Or engaging in stereotypes. Or condescension.

        That move is just not typical of France.

  2. Well, not surprising. We have sit still for all this crap for too long. As long as they get away with pushing the envelope, who knows where it will stop. Someday someone will pause and ponder if only…

  3. Pingback: France Chooses Profit For Publishers Over Authors’ Rights And Public Libraries | The well-prepared mind

  4. Thanks for alerting everyone to this. I’m still not sure how I missed it last November.

    The article in the Register says that authors lose their moral rights. “Last week France passed a law that permits the state to seize authors’ rights on out-of-print books published before 2001. Scribes have just six months to opt-out, or lose their moral rights and the ability to determine a price for their work.” This is wrong. Maybe the English are still confused about moral rights. The French Intellectual Property Code states that moral rights are perpetual, inalienable and imprescriptible. (L’auteur jouit du droit au respect de son nom, de sa qualité et de son oeuvre. Ce droit est attaché à sa personne. Il est perpétuel, inaliénable et imprescriptible. L 121-1). That hasn’t changed.

    They’re right that publishers are the big beneficiaries, though.

    The article on Action on Author’s Rights is very good and saved me from having to do a similar post in English. As it is, I did post some additional information regarding the context of the law and the consequences for libraries.

    • mikecane

      And no one will give a damn here. Who else raged against GBS other than me, really? Only one other writer, who resigned from the AG: Ursula K. Le Guin.

  5. The information was sent in English and French in November on various lists, including A2K, as a press release by three free software associations who undertook to defend copyright
    2011-11-14 • The French Senate proposes to legalize piracy of the French 20th century printed heritage
    http://aful.org/sections/communiques/french-senate-proposes-to-legalize-piracy-french-20th
    What little improvement was brought to the law is largely due to their action
    and the amendments they wrote and sent to members of parliament.
    This is one irony.

    The other irony is that both the Chamber and the Senate voted unanimously, believing they were protecting copyright against Google, and not realizing they were doing much worse. They have been brainwashed for 3 or 4 years against Google by publishers, not to mention the incompetent management of the French National Library.

    I left more comments with the Register (as Babou) and even more with http://blog.authorsrights.org.uk/2012/02/28/france-guillotines-copyright/

  6. French Publishers Association & French Authors Society settle with Google through a memorandum of understanding dealing with unavailable works:
    http://www.numerama.com/magazine/22851-google-conclut-un-accord-de-numerisation-avec-l-edition-francaise.html (Numerama, in French);
    http://www.actualitte.com/dossiers/monde-edition/reportages/accord-google-un-internet-raisonne-ou-chaque-partie-se-comprend-1745.htm (Actualitté, in French);
    http://www.sgdl.org/component/docman/doc_download/342-communique-accord-sgdlgoogle110612 (Société des gens de lettres press release).
    More to come.

  7. Pingback: France's Book Grab: Worse Than Google Books | I...

  8. Pingback: French Book Theft Targets American Writers Too | Nitchevo International

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