Stop me if you’ve heard this one…
I find it somehow reassuring that the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on clueless politicians and lawyers who create–and try to enforce–completely brain-dead legislation.
For proof, one needs to look no further than a story making the rounds this morning. According to multiple sites, Germany is attempting to prevent the sale of adult e-books during daytime hours.
You read that right. If you want to buy an adult e-book from a German bookseller, you can only do so between 10 PM and 6 AM*, local time.
* If I haven’t screwed up the timezone conversion, that’s 1 PM to 9 PM here on the west coast of the US. Primetime for porn consumption. Remember, kids, don’t use your work computers to buy porn–unless you can justify the expense on the corporate credit card.
This isn’t an old, pre-Internet law being extended into electronic territory. It was passed in 2002 and appears* to be an update of a law dating back to 1954. The new extension to e-books is part of the ongoing review and rating process at the core of the law.
* I took some German in grad school, but have long since forgotten most of it. Accordingly, I’m relying on this article from the Font of All Human Knowledge. If your German–or direct knowledge of German law–is better than mine, please correct any errors you see in my post. Come to think of it, Wikipedia would also appreciate your corrections.
The implementation, as best I can tell, will be for retailers to tag all “youth-endangering” titles and automatically filter them out of all lists and search results during those dangerous hours when kids are awake.
Am I the only one who expects this to go down the way the EU’s charming “Right to be Forgotten” has been handled? There’s no question that Amazon’s German arm will be subject to this law–a corporate entity operating in Germany is logically subject to German Law.
But remember: France now insists that it’s not sufficient for Google to only filter searches for RtbF material in the EU. I expect German politicians* to point with horror to how easy it is to access non-German sites from Germany and thus that their restrictions must be implemented by all sellers. It’s not enough that sellers block sales (and they already do: the big sellers use geolocation to determine where an order is placed from to apply the correct VAT and block sales to regions where titles haven’t been licensed). Even showing the titles, let alone covers and previews, would be a violation.
* And if you don’t think the ongoing anger over the post-Snowden revelations of NSA spying on German lawmakers won’t be a factor, you’re dreaming.
Bets on how long it’ll be before we hear the first demands for Amazon US to hide adult titles during the American afternoon?