Citing Creative Commons, Blogger Posts Houellebecq Novel Online for Free

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

Michel Houellebecq

By Edward Nawotka

Michel Houellebecq lifted certain portions of his novel Prix Goncourt-winning novel La carte et le territoire from Wikipedia. Not only did he admit to doing it, he insisted it’s not plagiarism, that it was simply part of his technique.

Over the weekend, a French blogger has turned around and used Houellebecq’s actions as justification for posting the entirety of Houellebecq’s novel online via Rapidshare as a free PDF download.

Blogger Florent Gallaire sought to explain his actions on his blog, stating that the “Creative Commons BY-SA license which is used on Wikipedia imposes two conditions of use to the public. In addition to having to quote the author of the article, the user must comply with the clause “share alike”:

“If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, the article-you have the right to distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.”

Unsurprisingly, Houellebecq’s publisher Flammarion disagreed, as did numerous copyright lawyers and Adrienne Alix, president of Wikimedia France.
Emmanuel Pierrat, a specialist in copyright and former attorney for Houellebecq believes the blogger is erroneous in his conclusions:

“He cites a point of order that applies only to contributors to the site. When someone contributes to this collective work, his point is clear. But that does nothing personal work of an individual who has inspired articles in the encyclopedia.”

Flammarion CEO Gilles Haeri said the company was  “take legal action” against the blogger.

The use of creative commons license, distinction is made between collective works and derivative works. An important difference.

Nicholas Gary, PP contributor and founder of the French literary Web site ActuaLitté described the event as “sophistry,” but noted that in the end, “…it’s not bad for marketing,” and would likely bring even more attention to the already controversial author and his book.

The book has since been removed from the Rapidshare with a note saying:

This file is copyrighted and may not be distributed without permission of the copyright holder.

Sources: Rue 89, ActuaLitté

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.