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. Zoom
DPA

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.

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1. Letter to Your Editor
SarahB3 09/21/2012
I wrote this as feedback, but I received an automated response that suggested this forum would be more a more appropriate place to take up my critique. I regret to inform you that you may have been misinformed when writing your article in regards to the Pirate Party Politician (link). Your article has in-turn, misinformed many of your readers in the matter that a member of the Pirate Party is issuing take down notices for copyright infringement of her book. This is in fact not true at all. Julia Schramm is not the copyright holder of her book, but rather, it is the international subsidiary of Random House that she chose as her publisher that holds the copyright. Let me reiterate, her publisher, not Julia Schramm herself, is issuing the take down notices. Julia Schramm will have full copyright ownership of her book in 10 years, after which, and as she said in the article in German that you linked to yourself, she will release the book free to the public. I plead that you rectify the mistake by publishing an update to your article. I give you the full benefit of the doubt by your reputation that you merely may not have had a correct translation of the article, or that you quoted, or misunderstood the German, but the responsible thing to do now is to correct the mistake. As a writer, blogger, and admiration by many readers, I hope you hold yourself to that responsibility. Thank you, Sarah B.
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