From The Register (originally published on 29 February):
Last week France passed a law that permits the state to seize authors’ rights on out-of-print books published before 2001. Scribes have just six months to opt-out, or lose their moral rights and the ability to determine a price for their work.
It’s essentially a Compulsory Purchase Order for intellectual property – the author’s work is no longer their own. Ownership is instead transferred to a quango answering to the French Ministry of Culture, which is authorised to make it digitally available. Publishers are the big beneficiaries.
The law has united copyright groups with the free software movement and Pirate Party in opposition.
Since the law applies to British authors and illustrators who have been published in France, it’s likely to draw fierce protest. Ironically France prides itself as the home of creators’ rights – and pioneered moral rights – or droit d’auteur as they call them.
The land grab is so brazen that even the French Pirate Party has come out fighting against it.
More details in the article.