Information Mustn't Be Free: Pirate Party Member Insists on Copyright for Book
Encouraging free sharing of files on the Internet, including copyrighted material, is an official platform of Germany's Pirate Party. This week, however, a senior member of the party has been policing illegal downloads of a book she published through a subsidiary of Random House. Will the party continue to promote its "information must be free" line?
Pirate Party politician Julia Schramm once called the idea of intellectual property "disgusting" in a podcast.
Politicians within Germany's Pirate Party have long stated that they advocate the free exchange of information on the Internet -- a virtual Wild West in which anyone can copy anything without any regard for copyright or other bothersome concerns. The fact that the free exchange of copyrighted material for "non-commercial" uses is actually an official Pirate platform even triggered a major debate in Germany about government policies on intellectual property earlier this year. The party has stated that free-of-charge downloads should be "explicitly" supported. Julia Schramm, a member of the Pirate Party's executive committee, once even deemed the idea of intellectual property "disgusting" in a podcast.
Now, however, Schramm appears to be backtracking on her party's limited interpretation of intellectual property rights -- at least when it comes to protecting her own work.
When it came to publishing her new book "Click Me," Schramm's agent sought to hook a big fish -- and it succeeded. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Munich's Albrecht Knaus Verlag, owned by Random House, ultimately sealed the deal, offering an advance of more than 100,000 ($131,010). In the tome, Schramm rails against capitalism and what she calls the "content mafia". Her publisher is also charging a pretty penny for the book, with a cover price for the hardback edition of 16.99 and 13.99 for the e-book.
Lawyers Go After File-Sharing Site
But on Monday, the book's official release date, illegal copies could still be found circulating on the Internet. Unidentified parties uploaded a PDF version of the book to an Internet file-sharing service and then spread the link on social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, along with information about the Pirate Party's platform -- including its proviso that information should be free.
The publisher immediately engaged its legal department and contacted the operator of the file-sharing service. By late Monday evening, the file could no longer be accessed at the original address. Instead, visitors to the link were informed:
"This file is no longer available due to a takedown request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by Julia Schramm Autorin der Verlagsgruppe Random House."
The file-sharing site had removed the illegal download on behalf of the Pirate Party author.
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2012
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH