There Is No Right to Read in Canada

This story is just bizarre. Some Canadian bookseller accidentally sold 14 copies of the new Harry Potter novel before they were supposed to go on sale. So the publisher asked for and received an injunction which makes it illegal for those people to actually read the copies of the book they purchased.

The Times reports,

The supreme court of British Columbia issued a court order preventing anyone from “displaying, reading, offering for sale, selling or exhibiting in public” their books. J. K. RowlingÂ’s legal advisers said that the author was entitled to prevent buyers from reading their own books even though they had not broken the law.

“The fact is that this is property that should not have been in their possession,” said Neil Blair, a legal specialist for Christopher Little, the authorÂ’s literary agent. “Copyright holders are entitled to protect their work. If the content of the book is confidential until July 16, which it is, why shouldnÂ’t someone who has the physical book be prevented from reading it and thereby obtaining the confidential information? How they came to have access to the book is immaterial.”

British lawyers described the injunction as “unfair and excessive” but added that the reader did not have a right in law to read the book. Korieh Duodu, a media lawyer for David Price Solicitors and Advocates, said: “I have never heard of such a wide-ranging order. One sympathises with the reader from a non-legal point of view, but property rights often trump civil liberties. There is no human right to read.”

No human right to read? WTF?


Reading ban on leaked Harry Potter. The Times (London), July 13, 2005.

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