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?
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.