French authors contest new law on orphan works

French authors have been signing a petition contesting a law for scanning and selling orphan and other out-of-print 20th-century titles just days before parliament is due to adopt the text onto the statute books.

The petition claims that the law violates the principle of copyright and demands a revision of authors’ contracts with their publishers, saying that the text "does not respond to the objective (of) reconciling the protection of authors with access to all the works that are considered impossible to find".
On the contrary, it diverges from the "intellectual property code without offering the slightest guarantee that all readers will be able to obtain the books under reasonable conditions," the petition says. It is extremely rare that works are unavailable because of authors or rightsholders, it adds, and in the vast majority of case, it is because publishers have stopped commercialising them.

Last month, an all-party parliamentary committee worked out a compromise on the bill that covers a potential 500,000 to 700,000 books. The National Assembly is due to vote the text into law tomorrow, 23rd February.