Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin Among Award-Winning Writers On French “Copyright Theft” List

While rooting around on the ReLIRE site, I discovered some big names among the English-language writers whose translated works may be found on the list. For those of you just tuning in, the ReLIRE registry is the official list of “unavailable books from the 20th century” that will be digitized under new French legislation and the rights to them transferred to a collective licensing agency. The registry went live on March 21st with a list of the first 60,000 books to be processed.

Among the authors I found in the registry are Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel R. Delany, and R.A. Rafferty. You won’t find them by searching for their names in the author field, but the anthology in question shows up in a free text search using their names. Although ReLIRE doesn’t present the catalog details, apparently it does use them to present search results. Here is the catalog listing from the Bibliothèque National de France.

From there I started to wonder which of these authors’ stories were included and how to notify them. The list of titles in the anthology wasn’t available in the library’s catalog, so I tried Google and found the information on the site of a bookseller specializing in rare French books. Unsurprisingly, several other well-known authors are also included in this anthology, including Roger Zelazny, James Sallis and Vonda McIntyre. Here’s the complete list along with the translated and original story titles:

George Alec Effinger : La guerre à finir toutes les guerres (All The Last Wars At Once)

James Sallis : Ceux qui font l’histoire (The History Makers)

Harlan Ellison : Toute une vie, dont une enfance pauvre (One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty)

Robert Silverberg : Dans les crocs de l’entropie (In Entropy’s Jaws)

Gordon Eklund : Memphis, par un été torride (White Summer in Memphis)

R. A. Lafferty : Grinçantes charnières du monde (Groaning Hinges of the World)

Ursula K. Le Guin : Ceux qui partent d’Omelas, variations sur un thème de William James (The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas)

Gene Wolfe : La mort du doctor Ile (The Death of Doctor Island)

Roger Zelazny : Nuit sans lune à Byzance (Moonless in Byzantium)

James Tiptree, Jr. : Le plan est l’amour, le plan est la mort (Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death)

Samuel R. Delany : Le temps considéré comme une hélice de pierres semi-précieuses (Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones)

Vonda McIntyre : De source, sève et sable (Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand)

Many of these are award-winning stories. The pdf of Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand is available for download (free) on Vonda McIntyre’s site. According to Book View Café it won FWA’s Nebula Award. It is the first chapter of Dreamsnake, which won the Nebula, the Hugo, the Locus, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards.

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Wikipedia entry) won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1974 and was nominated for the Locus Award.

The Death of Doctor Island (Wiki page) won the 1974 Nebula and Locus Awards.

Love Is The Plan the Plan Is Death (Wikipedia entry) won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 1973.

Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones (Wikipedia entry) won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Of course, it’s not unusual to find prize-winning stories in an anthology of short stories in translation. However, it is surprising that the authors don’t have a say in how the translation of their story, which ought to be considered as a derivative work, can be used. Seghers had to acquire the rights before publishing Henry Luc Planchat’s translation. Who is able to opt out of ReLIRE now? Henry Luc Planchat? The original authors? In any case, the main challenge now is to notify them so that those who can still do so have time to take action.

Thanks to @BlankTextField and @TheSFReader for an interesting discussion that contributed to this post.

Update April 13, 2013: Léa silhol has started a website to provide assistance to foreign artists lost in the French-only ReLIRE platform. Construction of the website is still in progress, but you can already find some helpful links and contact information here.

Previously here:

Legalized Copyright Theft Begins In France: Government Prepares To Dispossess Wrtiers Using Public Funds
Digital Graft And The Citizen’s Library
France Chooses Profit For Publishers Over Authors Rights And Public Libraries

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34 Responses to Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin Among Award-Winning Writers On French “Copyright Theft” List

  1. Pingback: French Book Theft Targets American Writers Too | Mike Cane’s xBlog

  2. Léa silhol says:

    Thanks for this. A *lot*. Yes, the Authors, their Agents (some of them do have Agents in France) or the Publisher holder of the First Rights must/may/can do the opt-out. The “reprints” are always published under limited terms of cession reflected in the publishing contract.
    I’ll add some names to your sad wall :
    Advised of the situation and currently reacting to it : Neil GAIMAN, Charles de LINT, Nancy KILPATRICK, Brian HODGE ; Lawrence SCHIMEL
    I’m still trying to contact : Kristine Kathryn RUSCH, Robert WEINBERG, Brian STABLEFORD, Chelsea QUINN YARBRO, Brian LUMLEY, S.P. SOMTOW, Freda WARRINGTON, Nancy HOLDER.

    All o’ them aboard my “De Sang et d’Encre” collection, which is in the current list… right now.
    I opted-out the whole book, in my quality of Editor, but I don’t know if it will be enough.

    English speaking authors lost in the ReLire opt-out platform (which is “offered” in French language only!) may contact me via my Twitter, Myspace, of via Charles de LINT for help / “hotline” and to ask for a digital copy of the “Survival Guide” we’re working on. Available upon request for any English speaking artist in need, and free to be translated in any-other-human-language by volunteers of good will.

    Thanks to our host, here, for the support. Respect. :-)


    • laura says:

      Thanks, Léa. If you have links to the other works or to your contacts page, I’ll be glad to add them here so that any writers stopping by can easily find them.

      • Léa silhol says:

        Hi Laura,
        I’m a bit dizzy with no-sleep+too_much_web+high_speed_work & so on today, so it’s probably all my fault but I don’t understand *exactly* what you mean by “the other works” and “your contacts page”. Would you mind to explain again to me (as if I were 6 yo) ? ;-)

        thanks. I’ll answer as soon as I can.

      • laura says:

        No worries. I’m probably the one who wasn’t clear. I meant if you have a link to more information or a direct link to a contact page on your website, I will be happy to add it so that English authors reading this post will have a one-click link to get help in the form of your survival guide.

      • Léa silhol says:

        Following your Apr. 5 post:
        My “own” webpage is down for now. But I’m brainstorming some solution(s). I can see the point that you address, of course, about a direct and easy-to-use link. Right now, Twitter and Myspace are the only mean to contact me ‘easily’. But I will take care of this problem asap. We have a lotta work here, following the unveiling of the first ReLIRE List, as you probably imagine. We have lot of people, in France, England, America, Spain, etc. to contact, warn, and guide through the maze. The shock of these “News” is felt as quite violent by many artists, and deprives them of they web-fluency because of the… panic they experience then.

        ONE thing I can say that could be useful is that, for now, none of the books published by Oxymore are at risk. I.e: none of our books are on _this year’s list_. So the writers published into Oxymore books prior to 2001 may relax, and spare themselves the pain to search through the “vintage engine” the BnF provides.

        I haven’t spotted any other Anthology through my wanderings in the ReLire list, for now. It would certainly be very useful to put up a general sum up of all the foreign writers that we tumble upon, and keep it updated.
        I am NOT forgetting the French artists, don’t get me wrong. :-)
        But we, Frenchies, are more aware of this new Law, and do have a better access, of course, to the stream of informations and updates, which are, mainly, written in French.

        The networking part, and a good and sound solidarity, seems to me very important in this aspect. This system thrives – and relies upon – obscurity and ignorance. To be selfish would be sheer foolishness.

        There is a very good paper about this mess, in English, here:
        I don’t think that you’ve mentioned it yet.

        I keep posting the updates about “who have been warned” and “who’s opting out” on Twitter on a daily basis, under the hashtag #ReLire and, when possible, to the dedicated Twitter @Recaler_ReLIRE. We are working on several solutions to federate the Foreign opposition, if need be. It’s very difficult for foreigners to protect their Rights when the battlefield is so far from home, and when the rules of the game are not available in their language(s). This is not a ‘detail”, for me. I worked closely with over 300 “English writing” artists, and I feel concerned for them. I didn’t really planned, at the start, to federate anything, or to make of myself a “referee” of the “foreign room” of the ReLire Gaol, though the chain of events seems to lead to this, by mean of a domino-fall operation. G__ knows it was not my wish! But, as a publisher, I experienced a very close and warm relationship with “my” writers. I really like or love many of them, and I do care about their peace of mind, and the respect of their Rights. I will NOT enforce, or help in any way, or let be, any measure, regardless of the “legal” tag this system gives to itself in mean to wrong these *human beings*: the artists. Moreover when this system wrong them on book that I’ve published. I was entrusted with books, and stories, and artworks, because the artists trusted me enough to allow me to foster their kids. It’s very hard, when you deeply believe in “fair publishing”, to be dragged into this ugly mess.

        Whatever, this problem is an international issue, and must be dealt as such. ReLire is a national shame, and our fellow-artists from foreign countries must be reassured on this point: we do not forget them, we do not see them as a neglectable minority, and we have at heart to protect their Rights along with ours, on a “no more / no less” basis.
        I am not entrusted, of course, to speak for “all of us” in France. Only for myself. But I know, through my chats with fellow artists, and my readers, that many people here feel the same, and will act accordingly.

        I’ve been asked to write a kind of survey / review / analysis about ReLire, for the board of an American Author’s Society. Once the deed completed, I’ll probably send it also to other societies. But it’s not done yet! The “Survival Guide” was sent to the “crash testers” and I’m waiting for their feedback in order to correct / perfect this work, before turning to the next move. One thing at a time, though the clock is ticking. ;-)
        I’ll keep you posted.

        Keep on the good vibes Laura!


      • laura says:

        Thanks, Léa. Your loyalty to the writers who entrusted their work to you should be an example to others.

        By the way, I referenced the excellent article from Action on Author’s Rights in my first post on this subject in March of last year, France Chooses Profit For Publishers Over Authors’ Rights And Public Libraries. Thanks for mentioning it again here.

    • Léa silhol says:

      The latest update about your question, Laura.
      Our “Hotline for Foreign Writers” will be hosted by Nitchevo Agency. The stub is already online here : http://nitchevo.net/Agency/Actions.html
      along with the e-mail addresses dedicated to this project. A growing number of foreign writers are aware of what’s happening, thanks to the active networking of some friends from over-the-ocean.
      We are now working on possible collaborative actions with some Author’s Societies in the USA and Canada.
      You may send us suggestions of web/press reviews in English language for our scoop.it wall, here:
      – on which two of your posts are already on display, by the way ;) –
      It’s a long and quite complex task, but the things are beginning to take shape.
      Another part of the team is working on general warning to artists or publishers. A list of the people we warned will soon be posted online. It will be followed by a database (this is *quite* heavy work, we’ll expect to launch it in a week or so)
      A FAQ in English is also on the way.

      I’ve been asked to ask some practical questions to the BnF on behalf of the Societies with whom we work. I’ll post whatever comes out of this, on Twitter and on the hotline.

      Keep the good work and spirit rollin’


      • laura says:

        This is great work you are doing for foreign writers. Thanks for coming back to leave a comment about it here.

  3. TheSFReader says:

    And while this anthology has ONE link to at least some of the authors, some other anthologies in the list do NOT bear any information WRT the stories they contain.

  4. FroguetteMiNote says:

    And literary translators being co-authors of the French text under Froggie law, their digital rights are being requisitioned too.

  5. FroguetteMiNote says:

    Correction: I realize only one translator is involved.

  6. Jean-Daniel Brèque says:

    Thanks for spreading the word regarding this literary highway robbery.
    Léa: I’m sending a link to this page to Robert Weinberg and S.P. Somtow via facebook.
    And I’m sharing the same link on my wall.

  7. Lucie Chenu says:

    Thank you for this excellent post. Can perhaps give the link to the French authors petition against the law at the origin of ReLIRE (not translated yet, alas) : http://www.petitionpublique.fr/?pi=P2012N21047&nbsp

  8. Nicolas Barret says:

    I add a little thing : the title of the short story of Ursula K. Le Guin is not “Ceux qui parlent d’Omelas…” but “Ceux qui partent d’Omelas…”.

  9. thesfreader says:

    An other book : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histoires_de_mirages , which contains (among others listed in the wikipedia entry) a short tory from Philip K. Dick: “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Can_Remember_It_for_You_Wholesale which was adapted to the Cinema as “Total Recall”.

  10. psycheinhell says:

    Thank you for getting the word out. Anthologies are definitely an issue for the authors searching their name in the database. A quick search through the keywords ‘anthology’ or ‘science-fiction’ bring up other books that involve non-French writers, such as
    – Forces Obscures 2 (Graham Masterton, Katherine Ramsland, Poppy Z. Brite, Charles L. Grant) ==> http://relire.bnf.fr/detail-notice?idOeuvre=57024 (here’s the ToC : http://www.quarante-deux.org/exliibris/00/15/aa/ba.html)
    – Histoires paradoxales (Brian Aldiss, Lafferty, Dick, Zelazny, Tiptree again, full ToC here : http://www.noosfere.com/icarus/livres/niourf.asp?numlivre=717) ==> http://relire.bnf.fr/detail-notice?idOeuvre=61611
    – Les Autos sauvages (Leiber, Matheson, Robert R. Young, Buzzati also) ==> http://relire.bnf.fr/detail-notice?idOeuvre=61728
    Etc… Such a mess, we can’t let this happen.

  11. Pingback: Encore et toujours ReLIRE ! | La SF du petit Nicolas

  12. Lucie Chenu says:

    French writer François Bon suggests to publish a list of authors and publishers who refuse ReLIRE : http://www.tierslivre.net/spip/spip.php?article3477
    And psycheinhell has open a pétition of readers against ReLIRE : http://www.change.org/fr/p%C3%A9titions/relire-l-opt-out-des-lecteurs and the text has been translated in English ! :-)

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