Julia Schramm is a well-known German blogger and prominent member of the local Pirate party.
In common with many other Pirates the 26-year old detests the “content mafia” and she previously described the term “intellectual property” as “disgusting“.
At least… she used to.
Yesterday, when Schramm’s book “Click Me: Confessions of an Internet exhibitionist” was released both on paper and as an e-book, the tide started to turn.
To help her publish the book Schramm signed a major deal with the Random House owned publisher Albrecht Knaus Verlag. In addition to earning a 100,000 euro advance, this deal with the “content mafia” required her to sign away her copyrights.
This means that Schramm, nor any other person, is able to share a copy of the book. This is quite obviously an awkward position for a board member of the German Pirate Party.
To make matters even worse it turns out that Schramm and her publisher are policing the Internet heavily for unauthorized copies of the book. While it is still available on many torrent sites, a pirated version posted to Dropbox disappeared this morning, to be replaced by the following message:
“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.”
A copy hosted on the Pirate Party’s wiki disappeared as well.
No pirates please
Responding to the controversy, the Pirate Party politician defends her move with the argument that people can still read her work elsewhere.
“There will always be free texts from me on my blog, and there are also book excerpts,” she told Welt, adding that she will make her book available for free in 10 years when she gets her copyrights back.
While we’re not condemning people’s right to sign copyrights away to publishers, it is certainly not something you would expect from a Pirate Party politician.
At the very minimum, it’s not in line with the party program which states:
“We propose to legalize noncommercial copying, publishing, storage and use of works to improve the overall availability of information, knowledge and culture, as this represents an essential prerequisite for the social, technical and economic development of our society.”
After the issue was widely reported in the German media, Schramm eventually came to the realization that it wasn’t her best decision ever. “In retrospect, of course, I could have negotiated more aggressively with the publisher on some aspects.”
“I was just very glad to be able to fulfill my dream to write a book,” she adds.
While writing a book is free and doesn’t require the exploitation of copyright (see other Pirates), being in the spotlight and making good money often requires sacrifices.
When that’s the case, it appears that certain ideals and aspirations are easier to throw overboard than others.