Qui habet aures audiendi audiat, Audible!

It’s time for me to say publicly how unhappy I am about this policy of not allowing me to participate in some of the daily deals because I live in a different EU country to the UK. I am from the UK, I travel and work all over Europe and live in Poland, but in Europe we have a special law (ironically in this context) called the Treaty of Rome which grants us four freedoms, including freedom of the movement of people and of services and of goods.

Nothing can override these freedoms as they are lex specialis. The problem is of course, that the EU in its current form is full of good thoughts and ideas which are applied on a selective basis. When they want our votes we are told we have these rights, but afterwards there are 1001 ways in which they are limited, if only by resources but also by all the special interests which really pull the strings. How can it be that in the EU a publisher can release books in one country but not in another? I understand there can be good reasons to limit that. I understand for example “Mein Kampf” being illegal in Germany, but Mary Beard? What has she been saying that would stir shit up in Poland?

This is not the first time, it seems to apply to about one in ten books now on Audible, thankfully not those I already purchased – das fehlte noch!  But this particular one is so ironic I have to speak up about this at last. Therefore the only basis on which I could possibly be not allowed to purchase the audiobook of Mary Beard’s SPQR is that the UK is in the Roman Empire and Poland wasn’t, therefore as this is about Roman times, Ancient Roman laws and not modern EU laws should apply.

Now I know that Mary Beard has had more than her fair share of unfair criticism from online cyberbullies and trolls in her time and I don’t want anyone to think that I might be one of those. That’s why I hesitate to write anything that could cause distress to the great woman. But I do think that someone like Mary should be made aware of this prejudicial behaviour against people in other parts of the EU which is apparently decided by her publisher, and maybe she can give voice to her own opinion about it, if she supports this or not, and maybe even get it overturned. She is, after all, a matrician, if not a magician.

So come on, Mary, are you going to allow your book about Rome to flaunt the Treaty of Rome or are you going to make a stand for the European consumer of your intellectual wares?

I just want to buy a copy of SPQR audiobook for GBP 1.99 like every other member who pays the same as me, and not be the subject of prejudicial behaviour because of where in the EU I choose, under my Treaty of Rome rights to live. It is illegal, do you understand? If I actually had the money to give due progress on this you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, the courts would have to find in my favour. You at Audible are not getting this because you are still thinking like an American company. You even wrote to me your phoney apology (see image below) in foreign, non-European English even though I subscribe to Audible.co.uk not the .com version, so you clearly have a very small knowledge about the UK and EU market. Learning the language is always a good starting point. You need to stop applying US law when working in the EU with EU consumers and start applying our laws and paying our taxes. If you can’t do this, then one day we will find someone who can. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

The offending rights restriction, written in American English to add insult to injury, is on the right.

6 thoughts on “Qui habet aures audiendi audiat, Audible!

  1. In the end of the day it is little quibbles like this that add up to people no longer believing in Europe. On the one hand we are supposed to have freedom of goods and services but on the other we allow American lawyers to make so-called “intellectual property rights” a way of getting round my right to be supplied a good or service the same anywhere in the EU.

    Effectively, because this has never been dealt with, the EU Parliament is saying that allowing Amazon companies to do what they like comes above the doctrines and philosophies we are supposed to hold most dear and on which the Union of Europe is founded.

    We don’t have to take any of the Four Freedoms seriously if an American lawyer can come along and find some so-caled “intellectual property” in the deal and apply rules to it which don’t have to obey the Treaty of Rome. It means the Treaty of Rome has no value because you can always use IP as a way around doing what it says. So if the Treaty of Rome does not over-rule or even if it does but we don’t bother to get excited about it and police that and change laws if necessary, it means that people have no reason to believe in the EU.

    And in this way I trace a direct line between Mary Beard and her publisher’s greed and the vote to leave the EU last Thursday.

  2. Alan, the first five words are the standard Latin New Testament’s rendition of the words of Jesus in a number of parables “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”. The idea is that if Audible is wise, they will take note of the views of their subscribers and not do nonsense things with us.

    1. Oops ! How embarrassing …such a well-known preface to many of the parables and I didn’t realise that is how it translates into Latin. Thanks for letting me know.

      I forgot to mention earlier that I had a run-in with ‘Audible’ over their file policy. When you purchase a book, the downloaded files are in their own proprietary format (.AA). My argument was (and still is) that if you’re paying for a product and you wish to listen to it on your MP3 player, then that should be your right as a paying customer. Of course, the ‘AA’ format are part of the DRM coding structure to prevent pirating of files. This is understandable in part but I feel it will only deter honest people. The pirating community have always and will always find a way to ‘crack’ codes that try to prevent them stealing audio products. I explain to the audible staff but I merely wished to add the files that I purchased to my MP3 player and did not want to always have to stream them from their site ought to have two play them on iTunes.
      By way of objection I cancelled my subscription within the trial period and have not been back since. I was told at the time of cancellation that ‘Audible’ were considering producing their products in MP3 format but as far as I can see they are still only offering AA format. Why am I not surprised ?
      As it happens, I have since purchased a piece of legitimate Mac software that will convert AA formatted files into standard MP3 files(the pirating community referred to above would not purchase such software but would produce their own equivalent or get a pirated copy of the software that I have!) so I suppose I could have continued my subscription. However, I cancelled on point of principle. I don’t mind paying for products but I don’t like being dictated to by corporations, especially when they consider their customers to be potential thieves. Sorry to ramble on, but these people do annoy me.
      Thanks again for an interesting article for the Latin translation.

  3. Mr Huli, I’m sorry but my meagre Latin is not up to an accurate translation of the title ! I got “who lives elsewhere listens” but the “Audiendi” has thrown me. Could you help out this Latin semi-literate please ?
    BTW, I’m trying to fill my Latin knowledge gap with Prof. Hans-Friedrich Mueller’s “Latin 101” from “The Great Courses/Teaching Company” I have to say I’m enjoying it and I ought to have a better grasp of Latin by now but I’m a slow learner; no fault of the course. If any readers are wanting to make a start on Latin, I can thoroughly recommend this course together with Evan der Millner’s free YouTube course .
    The only slight drawback of the Hans-Friedrich Mueller course is the order in which the Americans list the case endings (Nom,Gen,Dat,Acc,Abl) compared to the traditional order taught in England for centuries (Nom,Acc,Gen,Dat,Abl). I suppose it makes not much difference as long as they are learnt.
    My preference for the latter is that it lends itself more readily to a mnemonic, NAGDA, than does the American order. However, Evan der Millner in his YouTube Latin course gives very good reasons for using a different order again.

    Nearly forgot to say that I totally agree with your disenchantment with the ridiculous global copyright laws that seem to change at the will and behest of whichever company wants to improve its balance sheet. I’m sorry but in my book if you’re a C.E.O. you’re a crook by nature. The exceptions to this rule must be minimal.
    With all good wishes.

    1. All of the word errors in my previous reply resulted from the use of a voice-to-text software as I am lazy when it comes to typing. It seems I’m also lazy when it comes to proofreading before uploading comments !

  4. was mad about the same thing yesterday: at least don’t send me an email about SPQR deal only to tell me “there is no daily deal today” when I press on it. This is one of the reasons I’ve been seriously thinking about cancelling my audible.co.uk membership (anyway, I also have a membership at audible.com and audible.fr). Once, years ago, when they send me an email about how I can win an Ipad or something but actually I wasn’t illegible because of my “geographical location”, I got so annoyed I wrote them that if they know my location so well, they could bother a little bit more in order not to send me offers I am not illegible for. Audible.co.uk said they were sorry and gave me a free credit to compensate for my unpleasant experience, but of course they changed nothing in their policy. Books like SPQR not being available for us has to do with digital copyrights, but sending us emails about offers we cannot use has to do solely with audible.co.uk not giving a damn about non-uk customers.

Your thoughts welcome, by all mean reply also to other community members!