18 December 2003

If you think we have fun over here with our mess of state and federal laws, which are all too often contradictory, consider the problem in Europe over what we here consider an exclusively federal matter: copyright law. The European Commission has just announced its intent to sue Belgium, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, and the UK for failing to fully implement the 2001 Directive on copyright harmonization by 22 December 2002, and Ireland for continued failure to properly implement the Berne Convention's provisions allowing foreign rightsholders to assert their rights.

I find this more than somewhat comical. With all the snooty assertions of droit morale and disdain for the US's failure to implement them (on balance, I support certain forms of droit morale, such as a nonexpiring right to accurate attribution of authorship and indication of revisions or other alterations in a textual work) coming from the French-speaking nations in the EU, we've got yet another instance of pots and kettles arguing over who is black. And all of the racial ironies in that cliché are fully intended, particularly considering the current controversies over use of folk materials.