Dutch courage needed as Netherlands copyright group BREIN seeks e-book buyer data

NetherlandsAn ugly spat is brewing in the Netherlands, normally regarded as a staid and relatively free-thinking jurisdiction, over draconian moves by the local copyright enforcement body to gain access to e-book customer data to track piracy.

According to a report in TorrentFreak based on original Dutch sources, local e-book vendors working with the eBoekhuis platform have agreed with BREIN, the Dutch copyright-holders’ group, to digitally watermark e-book downloads and to link the watermarks with individual purchasers. The buyers’ details will not only be logged for two years, but will also be compared against watermarks of any pirated copies found online, and will be released to BREIN and copyright holders in the event of apparent piracy.

Details in Dutch are available here.

The agreement offers a fig-leaf for consumer rights by explaining the new policy in the sale terms and conditions, according to TorrentFreak. All the same, it apparently goes against Dutch data protection and privacy laws, but has gone through anyway. As one source states:

“They say that it is legal according to the Dutch privacy law, but I have a hard time interpreting any of the options in article 8 as that we can give that information without the explicit consent of the person.”

The same source states that some 62 percent of Dutch and Flemish e-books are now watermarked.

Responses in threads on MobileRead and elsewhere have been incensed to put it mildly. Says one poster:

“This is completely absurd. IMHO, it damages a Dutch law called WBP. If BREIN can now just say ‘We found ebook X online, and it states that it is bought at your store, transaction number XYZ. Give us the data of the person that bought it’, without going through court, then this is a very bad idea. Who says the book was put online by the original purchaser?”

The practical, let alone the legal, objections to such a policy should be obvious, but on past strength, a little thing like observance of due process is unlikely to impede BREIN. A major instigator of legal attacks against The Pirate Bay and other torrent and warez platforms, BREIN has attracted much controversy in the past for allegedly faking documents to help prosecute targets, and otherwise stepping outside legal norms. Objections have been even more heated because, as many sources observe, BREIN is a private organization with no independent investigative authority.

“BREIN is the central contact for rights holders, government, law enforcement, trade and media in the Netherlands with respect to all issues concerning the unauthorised copying and distribution of entertainment products both offline and online,” states BREIN’s own website. “BREIN is the Dutch acronym for “Protection Rights Entertainment Industry Netherlands” and also, more importantly, the Dutch word for ‘brain’.”

Frankly, it sounds like a no-brainer to me.

26 Comments on Dutch courage needed as Netherlands copyright group BREIN seeks e-book buyer data

  1. Is this watermarking and trace-back tactic in addition to DRM or instead of it?
    Regardless, if this stands, one might have to establish by report that an eBook was lost, strayed or stolen so as to preempt accusations of copyright infringement. However, to do this one has to be aware of the fact, for example, that some evildoer has made an illicit copy of your legitimately purchased eBook. Given the state of computer intrusion these days, that might be difficult or impossible to do in many cases.
    Finally, it’s hard enough to hold government appointed police accountable so these private enforcers are especially troubling in any democracy. Recall the Pinkertons in U.S. history.

  2. Paul, not sure if you wrote the headline, but there are over 100 Anti-Dutch slurs in the English language, frm Dutch ovens to Dutch wife to Dutch uncle to dutch coruage and it is really time to drop these anti Dutch slurs. Would you write Belgian courage or French courage or Indian courage or name your ethnic group? No. small point but is it fair to our Dutch friends who after all come from a very great culture too. Okay, long ago the Brits and the Dutch fought a lot and these words are the result, but not now in 2013. IMHO

  3. Dan, in the case of “Dutch oven,” it’s used to describe a cast iron dish with a top which was used by Dutch settlers to the US. “Dutch courage” refers to a gin created by a Dutch doctor. A “Dutch wife” as a term for a sex doll or prostitute is an offshoot for the same name for a bolster pillow created by the Dutch.

    None of these terms are the least bit derogatory to the Dutch.

    I couldn’t find an adequate explanation of the creation of the term “dutch uncle” so I can’t say anything about that.

  4. Paul St John Mackintosh // August 17, 2013 at 3:12 am //

    Dan, is “going dutch” especially derogatory? Dutch auction? French leave? Castles in Spain? Cousin-german? And I’m Scots, but I ‘don’t get offended in the slightest if anyone talks about Scots mist.

    I refuse to rob English of its historic depth, variety and wealth of reference, merely to pro-actively self-censor myself where there is zero possibility of giving offence. And I’ve built up Flemish courage myself many a time during great ale-drinking sessions in Belgium.

  5. Marilynn and Paul,
    First of all, a little sense of humor is in order here, as always with my comments. Two, I wasn’t criticizing anyone or pointing a finger, but “just saying”. I myself am not bothered by these anti-Dutch terms, and they are anti-Dutch, do some homework to see, but in the past few years i became aware of how derogatory many of these “Dutch” terms in English are. Not to say that other languages like French or German etc do not have derogatory words for “others” – they do too. But it’s wrong, from an ethical point of view. Sure, for headlines and photo captions such slur words are cute and fun, but think about it again. And again, with a dollop of humor, too. Next, below, I will add some research items from a top UK word man Michael Quinion at his world wide words website.

  6. 4. Questions and Answers from WORLD WIDE WORDS : ”Going Dutch”

    QUESTION From Ellen Smithee: I’ve been told that going Dutch, used when two or more people share an activity but agree to each pay their own way, may have its cultural origin in a slur. It was common for the Dutch to pay for themselves separately when dining out, unless a gentleman took a lady out. The English, especially during the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, came to paint the Dutch as stingy, and so created the phrase as a negative stereotype. True?

    A Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were certainly created through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. I wrote about this many years ago and won’t go over the same ground again, only to record that Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch feast (an alcohol-fuelled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of his guests) do seem to be contemporary with the conflicts, while others, including Dutch courage and Dutch uncle, came along later as imitations.

    Going Dutch — to which we can add Dutch lunch, Dutch treat, Dutch party and Dutch supper, all with closely similar meanings — are American creations from the nineteenth century. The oldest of these in the record is Dutch treat:

    If our temperance friends could institute what is called the “Dutch treat” into our saloons, each man paying his reckoning, it would be a long step towards reforming in drinking to excess.

    Daily Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri), 27 Jun. 1873. A “no treating” rule of this kind was in fact introduced into British pubs by law during the First World War for exactly this purpose.

    Confusingly for the etymological researcher, before Dutch lunch and Dutch supper took on their idiomatic meanings they were used in the literal sense of a meal reflecting a particular culture. The evidence shows they were more correctly German (a common error of the time, as in Pennsylvania Dutch), since a newspaper report in 1894 mentions that for a Dutch supper to be successful everything must be “consistently expressive of [the] vaterland” and mentions rye bread, cabbage salad, Wienerwursts and beer as being on offer.

    This is the first idiomatic example of Dutch lunch I can find:

    Perhaps you have a fatter pocketbook than some of the other fellows. I, for instance, can’t afford to buy two tickets every time I go. So some of the boys and I go on the “Dutch lunch” plan: everybody for himself.

    Fort Wayne Morning Journal, 24 Oct. 1897.

    The evidence makes clear that going Dutch and its synonyms are too recent and from the wrong continent to be linked with the ancient enmity between the English and the Dutch.

    There is a hint in James Fenimore Cooper’s Satanstoe of 1845 that paying for oneself was a known custom of Dutch people in New York. The action takes place in and around New York in the years 1757 and 1758. The main characters, including Cornelius Littlepage, Anneke Mordaunt and Dirck Follock, are of Dutch descent and good social position. At one point, Cornelius Littlepage pays the entry fee to a fair sideshow for himself, Anneke Mordaunt and her black maid; she carefully repays him the cost for herself and her maid, which he understands very well is the custom in the city, particularly among unmarried women. Cooper doesn’t use the term Dutch treat — either it wasn’t in his vocabulary or he knew it would be anachronistic in 1757 — but its idea is clearly expressed in the dialogue.

    We mustn’t make too much of this sliver of evidence, but it provides a plausible origin for the idioms. It suggests that Americans invented them based on their observations of the habits of Dutch immigrants. The evidence shows that early users applied them as straightforward descriptions and not as derogatory terms. So the origin you’ve been given may be correct, albeit applied to the wrong time and place.

  7. 4. Questions and Answers: ”Going Dutch”

    Question From Ellen Smithee: I’ve been told that going Dutch, used when two or more people share an activity but agree to each pay their own way, may have its cultural origin in a slur. It was common for the Dutch to pay for themselves separately when dining out, unless a gentleman took a lady out. The English, especially during the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, came to paint the Dutch as stingy, and so created the phrase as a negative stereotype. True?”

    Answer from Michael Quinion in UK: Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were certainly created through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. I wrote about this many years ago and won’t go over the same ground again, only to record that Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch feast (an alcohol-fuelled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of his guests) do seem to be contemporary with the conflicts, while others, including Dutch courage and Dutch uncle, came along later as imitations.”

  8. 4. Questions and Answers: Going Dutch

    Q From Ellen Smithee: I’ve been told that going Dutch, used when two or more people share an activity but agree to each pay their own way, may have its cultural origin in a slur. It was common for the Dutch to pay for themselves separately when dining out, unless a gentleman took a lady out. The English, especially during the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, came to paint the Dutch as stingy, and so created the phrase as a negative stereotype. True?

  9. QUINION replied:
    ”Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were certainly created through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. I wrote about this many years ago and won’t go over the same ground again, only to record that Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch feast (an alcohol-fuelled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of his guests) do seem to be contemporary with the conflicts, while others, including Dutch courage and Dutch uncle, came along later as imitations.”

  10. A Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were certainly created
    through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their
    fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. I wrote about
    this many years ago and won’t go over the same ground again, only to
    record that Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and
    which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch
    feast (an alcohol-fuelled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of
    his guests) do seem to be contemporary with the conflicts, while
    others, including Dutch courage and Dutch uncle, came along later as
    imitations.

    Going Dutch — to which we can add Dutch lunch, Dutch treat, Dutch
    party and Dutch supper, all with closely similar meanings — are
    American creations from the nineteenth century. The oldest of these in
    the record is Dutch treat:

    If our temperance friends could institute what is called the “Dutch
    treat” into our saloons, each man paying his reckoning, it would be a
    long step towards reforming in drinking to excess.
    Daily Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri), 27 Jun. 1873. A “no treating” rule
    of this kind was in fact introduced into British pubs by law during
    the First World War for exactly this purpose.

  11. Answer Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were certainly created
    through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their
    fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. I wrote about
    this many years ago and won’t go over the same ground again, only to
    record that Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and
    which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch
    feast (an alcohol-fuelled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of
    his guests)

  12. Michael Quinion answers:

    Q From Robert Legleitner, Kentucky: Recently on a writing forum I visit, quite a discussion erupted about the term Dutch as in Dutch treat and Dutch uncle. Some writers, fearing criticism and acutely conscious of political correctness, were afraid to use them as being pejorative. Where do we get these terms?

    A Dutch readers should perhaps look away …

    In the seventeenth century, the Dutch and British were enemies. Both wanted maritime superiority for economic reasons, especially control of the sea routes from the rich spice islands of the East Indies. The two countries fought three wars at sea between the years 1652 and 1674. At the lowest point of the struggle, in May 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sank a lot of ships, and blockaded the Thames. The Dutch were powerful, they were the enemy, they were the bad guys, and their name was taken in vain at every opportunity.

    The stereotype of the Dutchman among the English at this period was somebody stolid, miserly, and bad-tempered, and these associations, especially the stinginess, were linked to several phrases. Only a small number of them are actually recorded in print from the time of the Dutch wars, most being of eighteenth century provenance or later. But there’s nothing so long-lasting as traditional enmity; later phrases borrowed the ideas from earlier ones, and in any case many are certainly older than their date of first recording.

    Examples from the time of the Dutch wars include Dutch reckoning, a bill that is presented without any details, and which only gets bigger if you question it, and a Dutch widow, a prostitute. In the same spirit, but recorded later, are Dutch courage, temporary bravery induced by alcohol; Dutch metal, an alloy of copper and zinc used as a substitute for gold foil; Dutch comfort or Dutch consolation, in which somebody might say “thank God it is no worse!”; Dutch concert, in which each musician plays a different tune; and Dutch uncle, someone who criticises or rebukes you with the frankness of a relative.

    However, a Dutch auction is strictly not a member of this set, since it refers to a real practice, still used today for example in the Netherlands to sell flowers and other produce. Instead of starting low and going higher, the auction starts with a high price and reduces it. The first dealer to bid gets the lot at the current price. And going Dutch, one in which those invited pay for themselves, appeared in the US only in the late nineteenth century and has a different origin.

    But otherwise, you get the idea. Yes, they are pejorative. Using them requires thoughtful consideration of the offence that might possibly be given. However, some are now so embedded in the language that direct associations with the Dutch or the Netherlands have largely been lost — Dutch uncle, for example.

  13. Q From Robert Legleitner, Kentucky: Recently on a writing forum I visit, quite a discussion erupted about the term Dutch as in Dutch treat and Dutch uncle. Some writers, fearing criticism and acutely conscious of political correctness, were afraid to use them as being pejorative. Where do we get these terms?

    But otherwise, you get the idea. Yes, they are pejorative. Using them requires thoughtful consideration of the offence that might possibly be given. However, some are now so embedded in the language that direct associations with the Dutch or the Netherlands have largely been lost — Dutch uncle, for example.

  14. A Dutch readers should perhaps look away …

    In the seventeenth century, the Dutch and British were enemies. Both wanted maritime superiority for economic reasons, especially control of the sea routes from the rich spice islands of the East Indies. The two countries fought three wars at sea between the years 1652 and 1674. At the lowest point of the struggle, in May 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sank a lot of ships, and blockaded the Thames. The Dutch were powerful, they were the enemy, they were the bad guys, and their name was taken in vain at every opportunity.

  15. In the seventeenth century, the Dutch and British were enemies. Both wanted maritime superiority for economic reasons, especially control of the sea routes from the rich spice islands of the East Indies. The two countries fought three wars at sea between the years 1652 and 1674. At the lowest point of the struggle, in May 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sank a lot of ships, and blockaded the Thames. The Dutch were powerful, they were the enemy, they were the bad guys, and their name was taken in vain at every opportunity.

  16. Examples from the time of the Dutch wars include Dutch reckoning, a bill that is presented without any details, and which only gets bigger if you question it, and a Dutch widow, a prostitute. In the same spirit, but recorded later, are Dutch courage, temporary bravery induced by alcohol;

  17. Marilynn, ”The evidence makes clear that going Dutch and its synonyms are too recent and from the wrong continent to be linked with the ancient enmity between the English and the Dutch.”

    And Paul is British, right? Maybe that explains this defensiveness? But again, i was not offended, just pointing out how we sometimes defame others without being aware of it.

  18. Marilynn does NOT re ” “Dutch courage” refers to a gin created by a Dutch doctor.”

  19. I see the terms I mentioned — “Dutch oven,” “Dutch courage,” and “Dutch wife” in its original meaning of a bolster pillow as celebrations of Dutch creativity and “Dutch oven” as a celebration of the Dutch presence in the expansion of America.

    And my explanation of “Dutch courage” referring to a gin created by a Dutch doctor is from Wikipedia and several other sources.

    I don’t find them offensive, and I have a few drops of Dutch blood courtesy of a German ancestor who took a Dutch bride on the way to the US. I also have a former sister-in-law who is half Dutch/Boer so my beloved nephews carry considerably more Dutch blood than I do.

    And, Dan, I really don’t appreciate having all your comments here sent directly to my private email address via my website as well as the ones I receive via my public address that I use here. That is really over the top.

  20. @Dan Bloom: Quite a long time ago, I worked as a barista at a cafe in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood that was called Dutch Treat. Sadly, it wasn’t one of those hipster Seattle coffee shops where they make little leaf designs in the latte foam and the tip jar is always exploding with singles. It was more of an old lady cafe, which is to say that the majority of our clients were old ladies. And if they dropped so much as a quarter into the tip jar, we practically wet ourselves with excitement.

    Ballard, by the way, was historically a Scandinavian community. (So, not Dutch, exactly, but kinda-sorta close, I guess. Kinda.) The neighborhood’s motto, in fact, is “Uff da!” And oddly enough, the surname of Ballard’s first-ever mayor was “Treat.” (Although I don’t actually think the owner of the Dutch Treat, nor her husband, was aware of that fact.)

    Anyway … thoughts?

  21. Paul St John Mackintosh // August 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm //

    Marilynn, thanks. And Dan, I also found the five direct replies to this post in my inbox excessive and disproportionate. As well as massively dispiriting.

    Far from being defensive, l have zero historical consciousness about the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Nor do most Brits. l can tell you with fair certainty that most English do not sit over their warm beers of an evening in their London pubs bewailing the Raid on the Medway. They wouldn’t even know what it was unless they looked it up in Wikipedia, like I did. And the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which saw a Dutch king, William III, welcomed as the nation’s saviour, ever so slightly put the kibosh on any residual anti-Dutch feeling. If you want a fair representation of late 17th-century English feeling towards the Dutch, see Peter Greenaway’s ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract.’

    Or don’t bother. Because, as you point out, these expressions “are now so embedded in the language that direct associations with the Dutch or the Netherlands have largely been lost.” Unless disinterred to make a point – or provide a call to action. I don’t see any actual Dutch yet claiming to have been offended. I don’t see any suggestion that the headline was intended to disparage. (And your Dutch sources appear to be just a wee bit tongue in cheek.) Perhaps it really would be smarter to let these linguistic sleeping dogs lie. With no office intended to motivationally-challenged canines.

  22. To Paul and Marilyn and Dan, above:
    1. ALL i was trying to say, with some humor too, was that Paul’s article was well-researched and well-written, and an important news story, and that there was no mention in the article itself of “Dutch courage” or anything. So I was just pointing out, gently, and hopefully as a learning curve experience, that the use of “dutch courage” in the headline was not really part of the story and detracted from what Paul was really writing about, which was a great story. That’s all. Headlines matter, too.
    2. As for the emails to Marilynn and Paul, I apologize if the inbox was full, but i was having trouble adding some of the comments above — they did not appear on the screen at first — so I sent you both the longer versions by email in case the comments never appeared. that’s all. Nothing over the top intended. But I do apologize if it bothered you.
    3. Paul, re ”I don’t see any actual Dutch yet claiming to have been offended. I don’t see any suggestion that the headline was intended to disparage. (And your Dutch sources appear to be just a wee bit tongue in cheek.) Perhaps it really would be smarter to let these linguistic sleeping dogs lie. With no [office] intended to motivationally-challenged canines.”
    4. You are correct. Dutch people themselves are for the most part NOT bothered by these anti-Dutch terms in English because they read and write and speak in their own langauge and not in English and they hardly ever come across these terms and it’s true, when they do, they do not mind. You are right. I myself was not offended by your use of Dutch courage in the headline, i was just pointing out in a friendly way that that term has a “history”. Now you know. And of course, your headline was NOT intended to give offense nor did it. I never said anyone was offended. I just said that term had a “history” which Mr Quinion’s link show.
    As for letting sleeping dogs lie, I like that idiom and I agree with you. Case closed. And again, Paul, I apologize for the unwanted emails, Marilynn too. My bad.
    5. Dan Eldridge: That Dutch Treat cafe in Seattle sounds cool and I like the name. Here is Taiwan, the term has entered daily conversation among Taiwanese students who speak English as a second language, and they often say when they go out to lunch or dinner with a group “let’s go Dutch” and of course they mean no offense at all.
    6. In conclusion: Big sorry for all this linguistic brouhaha, my bad, case closed. And to emphasize: I never accused Paul’s headline of being offensive or anything. I was just pointing out something that I noticed and thought it was worth (and fun, as a learning process) calling attention to. That’s all.
    7. I know when I’m cornerned. I should have kept quiet and shut up and never even brought this thing up. Wrong move on my part. My apologies.

  23. It’s all good, Dan! No sweat. And thanks for the explanatory comment.

    Also, just so you know, as for your comments that sometimes take a long time to appear: That’s totally normal. I won’t get into the specifics, but quite often, comments written by actual people (as opposed to those composed by bots) get caught in our spam filter for some reason. When that happens, I have to find them and approve them, and in some instances that may take awhile (since I’m not checking the spam constantly, of course.)

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