Monday, August 6, 2007

King Richard: Don't Buy Harry Potter


While the rest of the world must wait until midnight on Friday to read the latest Harry Potter adventure, a handful of fans in a Canadian commuter town might know the book’s secrets because a supermarket broke the embargo.

Fourteen fans bought Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from The Real Canadian Superstore in Coquitlam on the west coast of Canada before managers realised their mistake. But readers will be unable to share their knowledge after Raincoast Books, the book's Canadian publisher, was granted a "John Doe" injunction prohibiting the buyers from even reading their copies before the publication date.

I think I heard about this somewhere a while ago but never got the full story until I visited one of my favorite websites for a good afternoon laugh:

King Richard no like Harry. Or more precisely he thinks Harry's author's publisher infringes on the right to read things. Oh oh oh oh oh. Bad publisher!


On his very fancy website ("coded with Emacs in HTML 1.0, because we don't need them new fancy technologies"), King Richard talks in his usual dictator tone of voice:
Read that article [link added -- ed.], then don't buy any Harry Potter books. Everyone who participated in requesting, issuing, enforcing, or trying to excuse this injunction is the enemy of human rights in Canada, and they all deserve to pay for their part in it. Not buying these books will at least make the publisher pay.

Unlike the publisher, who demands that people not read these books, I simply call on people not to buy them. If you wish to read them, wait, and you will meet someone who did get a copy. Borrow that copy--don't buy one. Or read it in the public library. Even better, read something else--there are plenty of other books just as good, or (dare one suggest) even better.

Making Canada respect human rights will be hard, but a good first step is to identify the officials and legislators who do not support them. The article quotes a lawyer as saying, "There is no human right to read." Any official, judge, or legislator who is not outraged by this position does not deserve to be in office.

But hold on. It gets even better. The publisher gets the opportunity to repent and make it up to our great lord King Richard:
On what conditions should we end this boycott? Forgiveness is called for when someone recognizes what he did wrong and acts accordingly. I think we should forgive the publisher when it
  1. Recognizes that this injunction was wrong.
  2. Promises not to do anything like it again.
  3. Calls for changes in the law so that nobody can get such an injunction again, and to establish a clear and firm "human right to read".

Here's some more info on why he cares, for those interested (note the weird name of that HTML file, Emacs messed up Richie?). Can anyone tell me why anybody listens to this guy?