"Human Right to Read" considered harmful

aka Richard Stallman, everbodies favorite one-sided bigoted hippy, gets it wrong again.

I suggest you read some background reading first. In case you don’t want to though, the summary is this: a Canadian supermarket mistakenly sold a few copies of HPatHBP (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) prior to the official release date. A Canadian court ruled that anyone who’d managed to buy the book was not allowed to discuss the book with anyone – or even to read it.

I agree with Richard that this was a bit over the top. I’ll agree that ordering people not to read a book they’d purchased is rather ludicrous.

But, I have to agree with the lawyer – there is no human right to read. I have to admit that the lawyer should have chosen his words a little more carefully – I’d phrase it as “There is no human right to read whatever one chooses to read without the consent of the author”. In fact, this may well have been what the lawyer did say – it’d be astounding if the press got this quote perfectly right.

There is, granted, a right to read. If you want to read, provided you’re not neglecting any commitments you’ve made or harming anyone, sure, you can read.

But not my private journal. Sorry. You can read all right, and you can read any time you choose (within reason, see above) – but that doesn’t mean you can read whatever you choose.

Just as I choose not to give you permission to read my private journal, JK Rowling and her publishers chose not to allow people to read her book until a certain date. That’s fine, and well within their rights. Howling that we have a “human right to read” anything we wish simply because it’s been published is ludicrous.

(RMS’ article found via BoingBoing)

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