EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

EU divided over Google Books?

Sir,

Regarding: ‘EU divided over Google Books

Do some in the EU actually think they can disregard the Berne Convention when it suits them and not have other countries display a similar cavalier attitude?

France is considering making a deal with Google to create a national digital library on the cheap, ignoring the copyrights on French-language books. What’s to keep other French-speaking countries from making a similar deal with a ‘little Google’ to distribute French movies or popular books? After all, these are countries that have far less money than France. If Google can post such things online, then so can they. Want a hot new book that retails in Paris for 30 Euros? Download if from West Africa for 2 Euros.

“But we don’t know how to contact those we’re ripping off,” you say, “but these pirates in West Africa do.”

Sorry, but is there is no clause in Berne that permits a copyright to be weakened in the slightest because a book is out of print or the copyright holder unavailable. If Berne gives no warrant for what Google wants to do, then countries that make a deal with Google have no grounds to complain about online digital bootleggers. Those with dirty hands can’t call someone else unclean.

Mike Perry

Editor, Inkling Books

Seattle

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