Archive for the ‘ Copyright ’ Category

A couple of weeks ago Julia Donaldson was in the newspapers stating that she would never allow The Gruffalo to become an e-book. See the article in The Guardian.
Some reactions to this were of the “good on you” variety, but thinking about this I feel I must disagree with Mrs Donaldson.
Firstly I think I should point out where I agree with her.
A physical book is the best way to enjoy a written story, especially a children’s one where you can either curl up on the sofa or sit beside the bed for a bed time story.
I also agree that the interactivity of e-books is a distraction from the story.
So why do I disagree with her?
If she had said “I don’t think e-books are a particularly good way to access children’s books and would encourage parents to purchase and use physical copies” then I would be agreeing with her. But instead of voicing her opinion and letting parents decide she has forced the consequences of that opinion onto everyone else.
Because she is the author society seems to think that she has the right to control how her work is enjoyed. Thanks to copyright law whoever holds the rights to her work actually has the legal right to control how the work is enjoyed.
I have a purchased copy of The Gruffalo at home (as do many parents). I have paid for the right to enjoy the work and believe that paying an author for work that you enjoy is the right and proper thing to do. However, I may wish to scan the book into my computer or create a recording of my reading it. If I feel that my child would like an interactive copy of it then that should be my decision and not Mrs Donaldson’s. While I believe that few people would object to me making these copies of the work for my family’s private use, UK copyright law makes these activities illegal.

This is why I believe that our copyright law is a tyranny. While compensating authors is a good thing, copyright law places full control of a work into an author’s hands and makes illegal all uses that are not “authorised”. By giving authors the power to say “my story will never be made into an e-book/movie/musical/graphic novel/audio book etc” our copyright law creates a tyranny that removes our rights to enjoy works in ways that suit us at the pretense of being necessary to ensure that authors are compensated for their work. This is why our copyright laws are in desperate need of reform in order to serve the public interest instead of the minority interest that they currently serve.