Friday, March 30, 2012

The Pirates are coming

Take 6
Cover of Take 6
The Pirate Party has now entered Parliament in the last two state elections over year in Germany (Berlin and Saarland). They have no comprehensive political platform (it is unclear what their position is on energy policy, for instance); they mainly campaigned on a battle against copyright, especially on the Internet.

I have already commented on the failure of Harpers and the New Yorker to take my money, and I also blogged about how I was not able to buy my own book (after contacting the publisher, a change was made, and my book is now available worldwide if you are looking for something to put you to sleep when you go to bed at night). The situation is ridiculous. A cartoonist has put together a strip on the general inability to purchase media when it comes out – even though the material is already available illegally.

And while there is a lot of talk about how copyright protects authors and creators of content, the fact remains that publishers (in the widest sense of the term) use copyright against content creators – one reason why a lot of artists (such as the one formerly known as Prince, but also lesser-known musicians such as Take 6) leave the major labels and create their own.

Want another example? Yesterday, my fellow blogger Margaret Marks also mentioned the case of a translator who was manhandled by the publisher of Harry Potter and by Warner Bros., which later did not want to pay royalties.

My material is widely plagiarized on the Internet, including by some organizations whose work I theoretically support. But I am not really worried, and I do not believe that copyright needs to be made stricter. The German version of my book is essentially an update of previous articles already published on the web, and they are accessible for free.

We do need to protect content creators and researchers, so we need copyright and patents. But we are also giving people reasons to justify breaches of copyright by making the system so ridiculous. Copyright needs to be reformed. I don't know if the Pirate Party will manage to do that itself, but maybe their very presence will force the issue onto the agenda.
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