Tag Archives: Books

Das BGH-Urteil zur VG-Wort-Ausschüttung

Es ist schon ein wenig überraschend, wie sich in Deutschland die Diskussion über das jüngste BGH-Urteil zum Urheberrecht und zur Verteilung der Kopierabgabe (und der finanziell weit weniger ergiebigen Bibliotheksabgabe) durch die VG Wort gestaltet: da wird von Vielen so getan, als ob uns der BGH etwas Neues sagt, was nicht schon längst auf europäischer Ebene geklärt war (siehe EuGH-Urteil HP vs. Reprobel), da giften sich Autoren, die die Verleger in ihrer Haltung unterstützen und Autoren, die die Verleger als Ausbeuter ansehen in sozialen Medien und anderen öffentlichen Stellungnahmen in manchmal recht unfeiner Weise an – häufig ohne verstanden zu haben, um was es eigentlich geht. Und dann teilen uns auch noch Philosophen(!) ihre maßgebliche Interpretation schwieriger urheberrechtlicher Fragestellungen mit – das hat durchaus manchmal etwas Belustigendes, auch wenn das Thema natürlich für alle Beteiligten sehr ernst ist. 

Dass das deutsche System der Verteilung der Urheberrechtsabgaben auf Kopien in seiner gegenwärtigen Form – Aufteilung auf Autoren und Verlage zu gleichen Teilen – europarechtswidrig ist, war im übrigen seit dem o.g. Reprobel-Urteil längst klar. Aus demselben Urteil geht auch hervor, dass wir hier nicht nur Zeuge einer Umverteilung von Geldern von den Verlegern hin zu den Autoren werden, sondern auch, dass die eingesammelten Beträge der Kopierabgabe europaweit in Ländern mit vergleichbaren Systemen (also z.B. Deutschland, Frankreich, Belgien, Niederlande) einen starken Rückgang erleben werden (aufgrund des Verbots der doppelten Abgabenerhebung pro Gerät und Kopie bei Kopierern), von der hauptsächlich die Gerätehersteller und –importeure dieser Geräte profitieren werden; ein weiterer Grund für den starken Rückgang der Ertragskraft der Kopierabgabe liegt in der wachsenden Bedeutung von virtuell gespeicherten Kopien – die Cloud unterliegt nun mal keiner Kopierabgabe und die Bedeutung der klassischen Speichermedien wird auch in Zukunft weiterhin drastisch abnehmen.

Aus all dem ergibt sich daher ohnehin schon, dass das bestehende System der Verteilung der Kopierabgabe durch die VG Wort nicht nur rechtswidrig, sondern auch aus technologischen Gründen nicht zukunftsfähig ist und man früher oder später über ein grundlegend neues System der Autorenentlohnung für “fair use”-Kopien nachdenken muss.

Länder wie Norwegen oder Finnland sind da schon sehr viel weiter. Dort gibt es vom Steuerzahler finanzierte Fonds, aus denen die Autoren für Kopien ihrer Werke kompensiert werden, und man muss kein Hellseher sein um zu verstehen, dass auch in Deutschland früher oder später ein nicht nach Speichermedien diskriminierendes und von tatsächlichem Kopieren unabhängiges System eingeführt werden wird, welches aus Steuermitteln getragen sein wird. 

Dass das Reprobel-Urteil und sein BGH-Folgeurteil selbstredend zu einer starken Reduktion publizierter Titel – insbesondere “riskante” weniger marktgängige Titel – und sehr wahrscheinlich auch zu einem tendenziellen Absenken der generellen Autorenhonrare in Deutschland führen wird, sei nur nebenbei bemerkt. Einige Verlage werden wegen erheblicher rückwirkender Forderungen wohl in die Insolvenz getrieben werden. Es sei denn, man findet schnell ein vernünftiges Nachfolgemodell.

Anstatt sich also in unsinnigen Zankereien zu verlieren, sollten alle Beteiligten sich schnellstmöglich zusammensetzen und ein zukunftsfähiges und nachhaltiges Nachfolgemodell entwickeln; dabei muss selbstverständlich auch der Gesetzgeber einbezogen werden. Zum Nulltarif, d.h. ohne finanzielle Einbeziehung der öffentlichen Haushalte und des Steuerzahlers wird eine vernünftige und rechtskonforme Lösung im Sinne aller Beteiligten wohl nicht zu haben sein. 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News from Retardistan (5): The silence of the lambs

Honestly, I cannot understand why most Bulgarian intellectuals don’t say a word about the fact that many of the places where they are usually buying their books are being more and more turned into locations where Nazi publishers are selling pamphlets that are advertising an inhumane ideology, racial hatred and mass murder. No wonder that in this climate, anti-Semitism shows its ugly face also outside the bookstores as this excerpt from the excellent book A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria shows.

It seems to be normal for most Bulgarian intellectuals to see Hitler’s My Struggle, Henry Ford’s The International Jew, and other extremely revolting books that either advertise mass murder, deny the Holocaust, or are apologies of war criminals being prominently advertised and promoted literally almost everywhere, or what is the reason for the silence of most of the Bulgarian intellectual elite in this case?

Do they think that the widespread promotion of such books in their country doesn’t concern them? Do they think someone might be offended when they raise their voice to confront those people who help to distribute extermination manuals? Are they afraid to be physically threatened if they speak out against right-wing extremism and Nazism? (I have to admit that this is unfortunately a very real threat as I learned during my public argument with a revisionist and anti-Semitic so-called “historian” – the “fan mail” by his friends gave me a very interesting insight in the moral scruffiness and deprivation of this part of the extreme right wing of the intellectual lumpenproletariat in Bulgaria; it contrasted rather typically and unfavourably with the almost complete lack of public support for my position by most of my intellectual friends – but do not worry, I have an extremely high frustration tolerance.)

Do they think it is a sign of democracy and freedom of expression when those who either deny the holocaust or who would like to commit mass murder, erect concentration camps, and sterilize by force certain groups of the Bulgarian population if they could are not only allowed to propagate their inhumane ideology without limits, but are even supported by a coalition of silent intellectuals and a public that seems to be completely uninformed about history and uninterested in what is going on in their country, in which revisionists, fascists and openly Nazi groups are taking more and more over the public discourse on certain topics? What kind of “democrats” would have the idea to promote a law that bans the use of certain communist symbols under threat of a prison sentence, but who seem to be fine with the promotion of mass murder under the banner of revisionism, fascism, and Nazism?

Hate speech against minorities is not the exception, but the rule in Bulgaria, and very few people seem to care. A real democracy and pluralist society requires that people raise their voice and set limits to this domination of the public sphere by revisionist, fascist and Nazi propaganda; intellectuals have a particular responsibility to speak out when it comes to these issues. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Bulgarian intellectuals seems to be sound asleep – this intellectual indolence, laziness and cowardice when it comes to confront this pest in Bulgaria is something very sad, disappointing, and depressing. 

Fortunately a few bookstores are consciously not following this trend and a few intellectuals voice their concern. A few bookstores and a few intellectuals, yes. But a real public discussion on a large scale about this problem doesn’t take place, nor seem many people who should know it better even to be aware at all of the issue. As long as it is like this, the enemies of democracy and a pluralist society have a field day in Bulgaria.

————————————————————————————————————————————

The above mentioned book is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Jewish and/or Bulgarian history:

Dimana Trankova, Anthony Georgieff: A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria, Vagabond Media, Sofia 2011

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Three Books Only

Imagine you would be allowed to possess only three books – which three books would that be? And why these three?

I am looking forward to your responses! (My own answers will follow later.)

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

From the Tartar Desert

Maybe THE highlight of my visit at the book fair in Frankfurt this year was the Indonesian pavilion; when you entered you literally were in another world. Much has been written about the late start of the Indonesian preparations for the fair, particularly the late kick-off of the translation grant program – but it was all well and who took a little bit time to enter the Indonesian pavilion with its slightly mystic flair could easily forget the frantic atmosphere at the fair. Well done, Indonesia! And it was a pleasure not only to catch a glimpse of the Indonesian book world, but also of the cultural treasures in other areas (Music! Film! Comics! Food!) that the world’s biggest archipelago has to offer. (Not that it was new to me as a former long-term resident of Indonesia…)

We paid of course also a visit to the Indonesian publishers (not ALL Indonesian books are published by the giant Gramedia), and particularly the visit at the Lontar booth with its interesting program of translated titles was a pleasure. Besides, Frankfurt, as is usual during the book fair, paid homage to the Guest of Honor all over the place: there were many readings, gamelan concerts and several art exhibitions at Frankfurter Kunstverein (Eko Nugroho and other artists from Yogyakarta), and at Portikus (Ade Darmawan) to name just a few activities of the program surrounding the book fair.

That Indonesia presented itself in such a splendour at the world’s biggest cultural event is to a considerable part the work of Goenawan Mohamed. Mohamed, the president of the committee that organized and coordinated Indonesia’s participation, is not only the arguably most important Indonesian journalist and since decades the publisher of the famous journal Tempo that played a big role in Indonesia’s reformasi process; he is also an accomplished poet:

 

Dari Gurun Orang Tartar

Dari gurun orang Tartar,
apa yang diharapkannya?
Dari luas yang mengancam,
apa yang dikhayalkannya?

Di Entah itu, Sancho Panza,
kita cuma nunggu.

Jangan, jangan mengeluh.
Berdirilah kau
di dekatku.

Sebab para ksatria hanya tanda:
angan-angan dan epilepsi
yang tak ingin selesai.

2008

 

From The Tartar Desert

From the Tartar desert,
what does he expect?
From the threatening width,
what is he imagining?

In that Anywhere, Sancho Panza,
we just wait.

Do not, do not complain.
Stand
beside me.

Because the knight is just a presage:
thoughts and convulsions
that do not want to end.

2008

Goenawan
Goenawan Mohamed: Don Quixote, PT Tempo Inti Media, Jakarta 2013
Translation from Bahasa Indonesia by Thomas Hübner 

 

P.S. – While I am writing these lines, I receive rather disturbing news from Indonesia: the most renowned literary event of the country, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, organized since 12 years by Janet DeNeefe, has become the target of some officials who threaten to shut it down. The reason: the festival is – like such events should be – a place for open discussion and exchange, also about topics that are still painful for some people in the Indonesian authorities. If the Festival doesn’t cancel its panel discussions about the mass killings of 1965, one of the worst genocides of the 20th century, and is screening Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Look of Silence, it will be shut down according to local police, military and government officials.

Maybe these “officials” should have a look at the Indonesian Constitution before they make a mistake – it guarantees freedom of expression and free speech and renders these violent acts of censorship and intimidation completely illegal.

I hope the organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair issue a swift statement against this incredible scandal. Indonesia was chosen as a Guest of Honor, as a democratic country that respects human rights and democratic values. Those who terrorize the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival destroy the positive image Indonesia just built up – I hope they will not succeed to suppress freedom of expression and free speech. Otherwise it would have been better to not invite Indonesia as a Guest of Honor to Frankfurt.

© Goenawan Mohamed and PT Tempo Inti Media, 2013
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Frankfurt, here I come

frankfurt_book_fair_logo

Yours truly is traveling to the Book Fair in Frankfurt. I am sure I will have blisters and excess baggage when I am coming back.

A detailed report will follow later.

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chitanka*

Yes, and I am for free books. And free cars and free holidays in exotic locations. And of course for free entry to all matches of Borussia Dortmund. Everything must be for free for me because I am entitled to have it. And who are these teachers, doctors, journalists, lawyers, craftsmen anyway that ask money from me for the services I ask from them? We should boycott these capitalist swine.

IRONY button OFF

 

*A Bulgarian website that infringes authors and translators rights of books on a large scale.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This is a modern world

Recently I read somewhere that a publisher wants to reissue some classics in a more modern and contemporary form. I guess that means Dante’s Inferno featuring the guy that invented the “Latte to Go”, side by side with the man that first had the idea for the pizza with mayo and ketchup.

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


A pseudo “service”

Are customer reviews on amazon.com a real service and useful for readers? 

The answer is: no. Customer reviews on that website are clearly a pseudo “service”. 

A very few of them are interesting. But I usually do not know who is writing them. In some cases it is an author who writes under certain aliases reviews about his own – usually mediocre – book, while writing very unfavorable reviews on the books of competitors (Orlando Figes is not the only case). In other cases it is someone who is paid to write these reviews in the interest of the author or publisher. And even a very high number of favorable reviews don’t say anything about the quality of the book – unless you think “a million flies cannot be wrong”… 

Nevertheless, some of the amazon.com customer reviews make for hilarious reading. Some examples: 

“The most boring read ever! The main character spends all his time doing nothing — and, worse, makes us all listen to his tedious CONTEMPLATIONS on how he does nothing. Much too slow; there should be more action here. Moreover, the author reverts time and time again to tired cliches — e.g., “outrageous fortune,” “murder most foul,” “primrose path,” “the time is out of joint,” “more honored in the breach than the observance.” The list could go on and on: we’ve heard them millions of times before, and we hear them every day. Finally, the story is too grim and sad. Why do so many people have to die? Why can’t the main character just realize that it’s better to forgive and forget than to take revenge and CONSTANTLY PONTIFICATE about EVERYTHING. Stay away from this book. There are lots of better and more entertaining books to buy.” (A. Person, Cambridge, MA – on Hamlet) 

Ok, if you need more action, I recommend Counterstrike…no contemplation required. 

“I don’t see anything philosophical, moral or intelligent about this book. It’s a boring, nonsensical story that has no point and on top of that is an excellent example of extreme ennui. If anyone other than the intellectual, snob critics’ pet “Kafka” had written it it would have been flushed down the toilet where it deserves to be.” (Euterpe – on The Metamorphosis) 

If I had the choice to either flush this review or The Metamorphosis down the toilet, it is an easy guess which one would I choose. 

“Paulo Coelho in my opinion is the best writer I have read in my life. He astonishes me with his natural talent and his insight.” (NN jr. – on The Zahir) 

I feel sorry for each person that thinks that this insufferable windbag P.C. is a writer at all. “The best writer I have read in my life” – Mr. NN jr. has either a wicked sense of irony, or he is a serious contender for the award for the dumbest sentence in a book review ever. 

“Not a great novel by ANY means. VEEEEERY SLOOOOOOW, INCREDIBLY BORING and NEVER really gets going at all (I bet most people will fall asleep after the first chapter or two). Defies logic how this novel gets so highly rated by ANYONE. Quite a bizarre/weird writing style and I really struggled with this one. Don’t waste your time reading this garbage.” (graygray – on Crime and Punishment) 

Defies logic how this masterpiece can be rated by anyone as “incredibly boring”. 

“This book is absolutely BORING!! I can’t believe almost everyone (or is it just everyone?) rated this book as 5 full stars! First, I don’t get it, second, Werther is somewhat pahychotic (Sic!), and third, this book has no plot. Therfore (Sic!), no climax, which is the most important part of a book.” (A Customer – on The Sorrows of Young Werther) 

Ah yes, Goethe, the old bugger. He hadn’t got a clue how to write. No plot, no climax – and I bet also his orthography was not on par with yours… 

These reviews made me think of two sentences of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: 

„Wenn ein Buch und ein Kopf zusammenstoßen und es klingt hohl, ist das allemal im Buch?“ (When a book and a head are colliding and it sounds hollow, is it always in the book?) 

„Ein Buch ist ein Spiegel: wenn ein Affe hineinsieht, so kann kein Apostel heraus gucken.“ (A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out) 

So, better you read some good book blogs or other print or electronic media with a more serious approach to reviewing instead of amazon.com’s customer reviews – and better buy your books at your local bookstore. (And if you buy online, there are many good alternatives to Mr. Bezos’ figment of monopoly capitalism.)

 

The Lichtenberg quotes are from his Waste Books (NYRB Classics, transl. R.J. Hollingdale).

Waste Books

 

The quotes from customer reviews are from the Amazon.com website.

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.