Posted: 17 Oct 2006 09:47
As you say above, you should take this with a (big) grain of salt - exactly how would Moulinsart be able to order the jailing of anybody?
They are only able to make use of the same law that anyone could - they call in solicitors etc. to act on their behalf. If a judge were then to sentence the offenders to prison, that is the judiciary, not a civil set-up llike a publishing house. And as evelyn points out above, there isnâ€™t any truth in it anywayâ€¦
Iâ€™m not sure why you should equate copyright violation with freedom of speech - if you are free to make a point, you are free to do so without using someone elseâ€™s copyright.
My beef is with the arrests themselves, regardless of who was responsible for them (I'm not saying people who posess goods they know are illgeal shouldn't be held accountable, but why wouldn't a simple fine suffice?). Apart from the seeming futility of such an excersise, it seems to me that mere possesion of a pirate publication makes a pretty weak case for arresting someone. Sure, they contributed to the profiting of the perpetrators (in a small way), but imagine if the same principle was applied everywhere: law enforcement would waste time and resources hunting down kids downloading mp3s, tourists buying souveniers made from endangered legally protected animals and other such innocently unheeding lugs. Perhaps it's just the rampant neo-conservative atmosphere these days, but stories about people getting arrested over such relitavely trivial things makes me uneasy. Is the law about possesing pirate publications made clear in Belgium?
They do have a better case in apprehending the designer, but was he the one actually printing the copies? I understand that the Foundation probably wouldn't have the juridstiction or the assistance to take down the actual "head honcho" of the book's distribution in Thailand (not that I'm an expert on Thai international co-operation, but even I'm aware of the kind of legal system that exists over there).
However, I mentioned the Japanese comics market, which I am more familiar with, as a kind of counterpoint. I'm not sure if you are aware, but there is a flourishing Japanese commerce in fan-comics (many of which have material far worse and more "defamaing" than "Tintin in Thailand"). The law in Japan allows profit from these books to be made by the fans that draw them. The corporations in charge of the original works see the market as a positive thing, not only as a free source of advertising, but also as a talent pool from which to pluck the next big manga artists (the professional manga group I mentioned, CLAMP, got their start by doing just that). And furthermore, this policy also applies to source material that belongs to foreign companies. Some of the hottest fancomics on the market are Harry Potter ones- a franchise owned by good old "let's-shut-down-kids'-fansites" Time Warner. I'm used to this easygoing kind of publishing environment in comic books- maybe that's why the "Tintin in Thailand" debacle is such a jarring thing for me.
And, forgive me, my mentioning of free speech is based largely on things I've heard second hand about Tintin and copyright laws. This may be a fallacy, and I don't believe it with any conviction, but I've heard that things as innocent as kids posting Tintin fanart on the internet, in an entirely non-profit environment, have led to stringent censoring and lawsuits being issued (a la Time Warner). If there's evidence to the contrary, then please feel free to impart it.