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Publisher Warns Fans That Liking A Book Too Much May Be Illegal

from the seriously? dept

When will they learn? Apparently, one of the hot book series out there is the "Millennium Trilogy" by author Stieg Larsson. Apparently, the first couple of books have become incredibly popular in the US, but the third in the series has been released elsewhere, but not in the US yet. So, not surprisingly, many fans are ordering it from abroad. Most of the article is about the fans' excitement for the book, and their demand for it:
"Once you know you can have it, once you know it exists in English and you can buy it, it would be crazy not to."
But, the US publisher is quoted towards the end threatening those doing so, claiming it's illegal:
"What I would say to readers is, I would encourage them to shop at their local bookseller here in the United States or their online bookseller in the United States, where no laws are being broken and you are supporting the continuing discovery of world literature."
As the anonymous reader who submitted this story notes, rather than just reading this statement, you really should hear the audio version of what Paul Bogaards from publisher Knoph says, because it's not fully conveyed in the written article. First, what he says in the audio version:
"Because it's against the law. It's a violation of copyright law."
But you have to hear the sheer condescension in the tone. He says it as if he's speaking to pre-schoolers, not huge fans of these books.
The problem here isn't people violating copyright law, it's Knopf not realizing that we live in a global world, and then failing to satisfy the needs of consumers, who are seeking alternative providers. It was a business model mistake on the part of Knopf, and insulting the biggest fans of the books doesn't seem like the best way to handle the situation.


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  1.  
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    Vic, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    Global world?

    A-ah, the movie industry has already solved this kind of global world piracy with DVD zones! Book publishers just have to work harder on this issue! Invent books that are unreadable in the US if bought in the UK or Australia! 8^)

     

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  2.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    WTF?

    The book came out in the UK on October 1st and the US version isn't going to come out until the end of May? What the hell do these people think was going to happen? These aren't like video games with regional encoding. They have no excuse.

     

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  3.  
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    sehlat (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    Been there. Done that.

    I take it the publisher paid NO attention to Bloomsbury's arrogant handling of the demand for Harry Potter? It's instructive.

    After the first three books had come out, with no eBook release, I noticed the following:

    Book 4: on the net one month later.
    Book 5: on the net one week later
    Book 6: on the net the next day
    Book 7: on sale in England, on the net before the stores opened in New York.

    The publisher's response to the demand: "I should think they would understand that if we don't provide it, they can't have it."

    My response: I'll get 'em from the library, if I ever bother.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Global world?

    Right! that's DVD regions, not zones!

     

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  5.  
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    TheStupidOne, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Re: WTF?

    They just assumed American's wouldn't know how to read United Kingdomish and so figured they were safe. Somebody forgot to tell the publisher that America and UK speak the same language (slightly different word choices and spellings at time, but nothing the reasonably intelligent reader can't handle)

     

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  6.  
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    Danny, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Seriously?

    You know what maybe if people are willing to import internation copies then maybe just maybe that means he better hurry up with the official US release.

    If what Chronno S. Trigger says is true about the release dates then I have to ask what the hell is taking so long? All they have to do is translate the book from UK to US language and really how long can that take?

    Its not a game so its not like they have to account for cultural differences, voice acting, regional coding, and all that other stuff that would cause a big delay in releasing in another country.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    I know there are those who would like to change copyright law to make this illegal, but in what way is it currently illegal under US copyright law to buy legit copies of books from overseas sellers?

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: WTF?

    "They just assumed American's wouldn't know how to read United Kingdomish and so figured they were safe."

    Brings to mind Dennis Farrina's quote from Snatch:

    "Doug, why don't you speak English? I thought you people were the ones that spawned the fucking language, and so far no one seems to speak it!"

     

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  9.  
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    www.eZee.se (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: WTF?

    Thanks!
    I needed that laugh, and liked your humor :)

    Also listen to the words this guy chooses, words like "consider".
    The problem is they think they still have the control of old, or fool themselves into believing so, they dont realize the world has gotten smaller and if they really piss someone off all that someone has to do is take a little while off to scan the whole book and put it on the p2p networks.

    Its pretty simple, either meet the demand or... someone is going to meet it for you, and unlike in old, this time there is no monetary gain thats the main motivation... just our ingrained instinct to 'share'.

     

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  10.  
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    Julian Sanchez, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Is that even true?

    Presumably the overseas distributors are in breach of their contracts with the publisher if they're shipping to people in the U.S., but as I understand the First Sale doctrine, a domestic BUYER who purchases a UK copy, whether to read or resell it, ought to be in the clear. I'm missing the part in the story where anybody actually, you know, makes a copy.

     

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  11.  
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    www.eZee.se (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re: WTF?

    Thanks!
    I needed that laugh, and liked your humor :)

    Also listen to the words this guy chooses, words like "consider".
    The problem is they think they still have the control of old, or fool themselves into believing so, they dont realize the world has gotten smaller and if they really piss someone off all that someone has to do is take a little while off to scan the whole book and put it on the p2p networks.

    Its pretty simple, either meet the demand or... someone is going to meet it for you, and unlike in old, this time there is no monetary gain thats the main motivation... just our ingrained instinct to 'share'.

     

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  12.  
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    Hyman Rosen, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Importing English Books

    It used to be illegal to import English books from countries other than Canada into the US, but that law was changed a long time ago. 17 USC 601 contains this restriction, but expires it after July 1, 1986. The publisher, unsurprisingly, is an idiot.

     

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  13.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    many of the stores on amazon are located in the U.S. and the authors website clearly states:

    "UK release the 1st of October 2009, US release the 31st of October 2009."

    http://www.stieglarsson.com/Millennium-series

    seems to meet all the demands made in the NPR rant.

     

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  14.  
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    cx, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    What?

    What does this even mean?
    ...and you are supporting the continuing discovery of world literature

     

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  15.  
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    Matt (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    Huh?

    Did I read that right? The book is not available in the US so people are ordering it from overseas? Not stealing, not pirating, but ordering it. Which to me means paying for it. Yet the publishers are still bitching? Does this make any sense? They're giving you money. STFU.

     

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  16.  
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    Chargone (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re: What?

    probably not what he thinks it means...

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Is that even true?

    Is that even true?

    Of course not.

     

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  18.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    Poorly edited story

    The problem is the story is poorly edited. NPR makes it sound like the publisher meant the act of purchasing a copy from Amazon.co.uk was illegal. It isn't. Importation for public distribution is.

    The publisher was complaining about a bookstore in Houston that was purchasing copies for resale. I don't agree with the law, but he is correct on that point.

     

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  19.  
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    trench0r (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    wow

    might as well leave the stick in his ass, at least he's got a place to sit.

     

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  20.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Poorly edited story

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125499739
    All this online book-buying did not escape the attention of book sellers, like David Thompson of Murder By the Book mystery bookstore in Houston. Thompson says the store wanted to honor the U.S. release date, but it kept getting harder and harder.

    "We had gotten several very loyal customers who just absolutely needed the third book because the second one ends with such a cliffhanger you really, really want to read that third one right away," Thompson says. "And so we felt that it was really important to serve our customers and import these books that there was a desperate demand for."

    Eventually Knopf found out that Thompson's store and others were importing copies of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and selling them to their customers. Knopf asked the booksellers to stop the practice, because says Bogaards, "it's a violation of copyright law."

     

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  21.  
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    ike, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    TV shows suffer from the same problem.

    Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis episodes were broadcasted in Canada far after their US broadcast. Two years later for some of Atlantis! Similarly, Doctor Who used to lag 6 months behind the UK in Canada and even more in the USA.

    There's no way I was going to wait that long to see the shows, so I resorted to downloading the episodes from the net.

    Doctor Who is currently playing with a 2 week lag. The first episode of the new season will air on the same night as the third episode will be airing in the UK.

    In a world of global communication, even two weeks is quite long. If you wait, you miss out on discussions about your favourite shows, and you have to worry about running into spoilers.

     

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  22.  
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    Mayor Milobar (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    How much you wanna bet...

    How much you wanna bet someone's yearly bonus depends on regional distribution numbers?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Poorly edited story

    I don't agree with the law, but he is correct on that point.

    Neither of one of you is correct.

     

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  24.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    Which is daft isn't it, they stopped bookstores from importing books that their customers wanted... bookstores acting as an example of how a business should be, providing a services based upon it's customers wants and needs, not dicatating how it's customers can buy its product.

    No wonder the third part has been available via the bittorrent protocol for 6 months...

     

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  25.  
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    Mike, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    Having read all three books...

    Having read all three books, it's ABSURD for them to hold back the third book, since it's really just a continuation of the second book. The action literally stops short at the end of the second book and picks up right where it left off in the third. I've always felt that the second and third book were really just one long book.

    I recommend getting that anyone interested in a good read (or three) purchase all three of the books by whatever means necessary.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Poorly edited story

    The publisher was complaining about a bookstore in Houston that was purchasing copies for resale. I don't agree with the law, but he is correct on that point.

    He's wrong in saying "it's a violation of copyright law." Neither Copyright nor any other law prevents you from reselling a book you purchased.

    There may be contractual issues at play, but that's completely unrelated to Copyright.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Poorly edited story

    Knopf asked the booksellers to stop the practice, because says Bogaards, "it's a violation of copyright law."

    Except, it isn't.

     

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  28.  
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    mrharrysan (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Huh?

    Matt, I'm pretty sure the publisher or distributor or whatever is different in the UK than it is here in the US. So the guy on the radio's company does not make any money if you buy the import copy. BTW, not defending him, just stating a fact.

     

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  29.  
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    Johnny Canada, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    Re: TV shows suffer from the same problem.

    And to think Stargates are Made in Canada

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:39pm

    17 USC 602 (click on my name) seems at first like it might apply here, but then it says in 602 (b) that "... In a case where the copies or phonorecords were lawfully made, the United States Customs Service has no authority to prevent their importation unless the provisions of section 601 [17 USC 601] are applicable."

    Anybody familiar with the law care to clarify the meaning of 17 USC 602 (a) in light of the exception above in (b)?

     

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  31.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Re: What?

    it means that you can't just get books from other countries. you have to follow the proper discovery process or something terrible might happen. buying books locally helps fund expeditions to the strange foreign places to find books and it helps fund clinical trials to test the safety of foreign books in american markets.

     

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  32.  
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    Ccomp5950 (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    How is this a violation of copyright law?

    You are telling me that as an individual, if I purchase a book from China and have it shipped here that I've broken the law?

     

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  33.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: WTF?

     

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  34.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    i told you they are getting retarded

    LOL
    i didn't even bother with rest of the article if even 1% hint at what hollywood wants these days comes true were all going to DIE OFF ON THIS PLANET

    think of the children , free up knowledge and culture

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Global world?

    Well, I guess different languages are a sort of region lock.

     

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  36.  
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    Dean Landolt, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    it's WHAT law?

    "I know there are those who would like to change copyright law to make this illegal, but in what way is it currently illegal under US copyright law to buy legit copies of books from overseas sellers?"

    That was my reaction too! I know why DVD regions are "the law" (damn CSS and the DMCA), but last I heard the DMCA doesn't apply to bound works (maybe they could consider plastic wrap to be a copy protection technique)?

    Anyone want to shed some light on this?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    What arrogance. Paul Bogaards, why don't you go fuck yourself and the retarded donkey you rode in on?

     

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  38.  
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    Rob (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 3:34pm

    Not an actual problem.. :)

    I brought all three books back with me from Sweden last summer. Of course, they're in Swedish, but that works for me.

     

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  39.  
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    DJ (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 3:41pm

    Re: How is this a violation of copyright law?

    Now that the trade sanctions have been lifted, no. Prior to that, yes.

     

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  40.  
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    Brian (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Seriously?

    Calm down there buddy. Do you know how long it takes to translate a sentence properly from united kingdomish to american? Hell those bloody blokes make up words left and right all the time! It takes a good week to just get through a couple pages.

     

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  41.  
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    OtherKevin, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Huh?

    I don't know much about these particular books, other than knowing that my wife (an avid reader) has read the first two and really enjoyed them. I suspect that does not bode well for me since there were scenes of a woman torturing a man, removing his naughty bits, etc. But I digress.

    Most likely the book has different publishers for different countries/regions (as is frequently the case). So when Americans buy copies from the UK and have them shipped here, the company who payed dearly for the US rights to print and distribute the book is losing potential sales, even though Mr. Larson is still making money from it. I suspect very strongly that that is the root of the issue.

    Of course, if the American publisher/distributor had any sense they would recognize that in a global economy with widespread international trade, the artificial structures of country are extremely permeable.

     

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  42.  
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    Nick Dynice (profile), Apr 12th, 2010 @ 5:12pm

    Paul Bogaards lied to NPR

    I think the lead to this story is that Paul Bogaards lied to NPR. Importing a book from another country is not a violation of copyright law. The foreign publisher bought the rights to republish the book fair and square. Show me the section of copyright law that says import of a book that is not yet in the domestic marketplace is a violation. There is no such thing. It is a flat out lie.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

    Copyright law is not just about copying is more about distribution and the monopoly of that distribution. That is why is called "distribution channel" is narrow and has to conform to the owners wishes.

    In the U.S. is not so bad compared to other places that have "moral rights" that are even more restrictive, like the right the author has to not have his or her work shown in a bad light. Europe and Asia fully embrace moral rights.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Seriously?

    "All they have to do is translate the book from UK to US language and really how long can that take?"

    Since it is already written, published, bound and boxed in a warehouse just waiting for months, if not years to be released, None!!

    I used to work in a secure warehouse that the entertainment industry used to keep all of their top secret projects. They had movies on DVD years before the release date in the theater. The filming and post production is sometimes done years ahead of the release.

    We also kept books from publishers that wanted to hold off the release for many months or years. The assholes from the companies treated everything like it was life or death that nothing got released. One jackass told us in a briefing that if anything got out, it would be like killing the president of the US. He told us that the FBI and Secret Service would get balls deep in our lives. First thing we did was crack open a box and put that shit on the internet. Glad we were the ones that provided the security tape on the boxes. Nothing ever happened... Next time he came by to brief us, we told him to STFU and stop blowing smoke up our asses before we had him arrested for making terroristic threats.

    As for the book releases... Who cares... if you can get it, do it. Nothing is illegal unless someone shows up at your home to enforce some unpopular, useless, and unenforceable law.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 7:44pm

    Paul B. is on Twitter

    Join Twitter today and follow @paulbogaards

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Been there. Done that.

    I finished the 7th book the day before it came out, having read it for two or three days, and yet I still bought it on release day...

    Maybe one day they'll realize that it's not piracy that's killing the industry.

     

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  47.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re: Global world?

    Not if you have a multi-region brain.

     

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  48.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 2:11am

    Re: WTF?

    At a guess, they're trying to enforce their self-imposed "optimal" gaps between the books' release dates to "maximise" profits. That's why they're freaking out - customers who are actually interested in buying their product are doing it in ways that benefit themselves, not the publisher (especially as the publisher in the UK is a different company). As ever, a business model and marketing problem, not "copyright".

    Of course, the answer is the same as for any time this kind of thing happens - give the customers what they want. Forcing people to wait will often just encourage them to get the goods by other means. Anti-consumer rights people can at least take solace in the fact that those people are buying a legal copy in this case so that the estate of the (sadly prematurely deceased) author will benefit.

    "These aren't like video games with regional encoding."

    Except, it is *exactly* like that. The regional coding is just a way to try and enforce this idiocy on captive markets through technology. Other than the fact that such technology is not possible on paperbacks, it's an identical situation.

    Now, at least, Americans are getting a taste of how us Brits feel when we're forced to wait 6 months for a DVD or videogame, only to be told we're "pirates" for hacking our systems to play perfectly legal English language imports.

     

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  49.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 2:15am

    Re:

    Those are the hardback release dates. The paperback release dates are further apart.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    I didn't know going to amazon.fr or amazon.uk is using "high tech surveillance technology", as the intro states. These people really need to go online some time.

    BTW, @chris, I love your avatar... I'm wearing it in a t-shirt right now!

     

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  51.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:08am

    Re: Re: Huh?

    I dunno what translation (or book) your wife read but although torture does happen (and orifices get plugged) no guy is getting his naughty bits removed in the trilogy.

     

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  52.  
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    Idobek (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: WTF?

    They just assumed American's wouldn't know how to read United Kingdomish and so figured they were safe. Somebody forgot to tell the publisher that America and UK speak the same language (slightly different word choices and spellings at time, but nothing the reasonably intelligent reader can't handle)

    I imagine that's why Bloomsbury "translated" the Harry Potter novels into American. It was strangley disconcerting reading one whilst living in Philadelphia, some of the language used was just... wrong. Of course, I only noticed because I am English; the average American wouldn't.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:54am

    The original copyright holder (eg. the Author) will have licenced the work to various publishers around the world based on language and Territoriality. The main territories for a UK based publisher are UK & Commonwealth (english language).

    In this case the UK publisher is an independant called Quercus.

    Any sales into the US by Quercus or any retailer/wholesaler who has purchased from Quercus is a contractual issue with the Author.

    However the US publisher has licensed copyright in the US. Therefore importation (selling) of an infringing work into the US is also a copyright issue.

    The buyer is fine, I believe, it is the seller that is at fault. Unless of the course the buyer imports for new sales inb which case there is a copyright problem

     

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  54.  
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    Idobek (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:00am

    Re: TV shows suffer from the same problem.

    You're discussing the exceptions! Living in the UK I have to put up with this for almost every American produced TV show.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    Re: What?

    Why just today several new novels and a compendium of short stories were discovered in the antarctic.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    http://www.bitlaw.com/source/17usc/601.html

    Seems to me that anyone importing less than 2,000 copies is in the clear, here. That's just a guess. Some of it is too damned wordy, and makes me think that our lawyers need to take a common English course and abide by much more strict rules.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    Re:

    "Any sales into the US by Quercus or any retailer/wholesaler who has purchased from Quercus is a contractual issue with the Author"

    Fine - He died 9 November 2004

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Stephen, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 10:26am

    foreign rights

    What this is about is the continued ghettoization of the book world, which is now merely a financial fiction. If corporations can go global, so should consumers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    Rob (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Steig Larsson's estate maybe...

    But he himself isn't making any money from the book...

    http://www.stieglarsson.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Danny, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Seriously?

    Truthfully no I don't know how long it takes to translate a book but the point I was trying to make is that in this particular case of translating it from UK to US there isn't that great of a difference...unless the translators are going through the book and changing UK cultural references to US ones which would probably take away from the story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: WTF?

    Other than the fact that such technology is not possible on paperbacks, it's an identical situation.

    I believe that is the difference he was pointing out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re:

    doesn't really matter - copyright is to author's death +70 years and will pass to his heirs

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    mcnb (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 5:04am

    Re:

    Please don't insult the donkey. There's only one ass in this story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Tim Coronel, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Global world?

    they have -- they're called ebooks! Geographical restrictions on ebooks is a burning topic in Australia right now http://www.fancygoods.com.au/tim/2010/04/14/why-cant-australians-buy-the-ebooks-they-want/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Eddie, Apr 18th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Publisher Warns Fans That Liking A Book Too Much May Be Illegal

    It's a global world. Consumers are gaining the power......as it should be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    icon
    Richard Hussong (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Global world?

    Actually, book publishers are way ahead on this one. They publish plenty of books that are unreadable in the US already. In fact, it is a rare pleasure to find even one book that is readable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    Yeebok (profile), Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: TV shows suffer from the same problem.

    Agreed. It comes out weeks later in Australia too. When it airs they air it at 830 for 2 weeks on Monday,then it moves to 930 on Sunday, a bit later it's 1030 on a Thursday.. and since by then everyone's downloading the ad-free US copies, nobody's watching it on TV, so they cancel it.
    It's like suicide, only slower and even more pointless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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