Copyright law as expressed in a variety of countries. One useful point is the distinction between proprietary rights (droits patrimoniaux) and moral rights (droits moraux), more fully defined in French copyright law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_copyright_law
In particular, moral rights may apply if a creator is unhappy with a translation produced without authorization on legitimate quality grounds.
The practice of enabling potential licensees to reproduce a work in the absence of production by the copyright owner.
The Berne Convention requires countries to provide copyright protection to works by foreign authors as though the works were copyrighted within the country. The lengths of protection are fairly extensive: 50 years after the author's death, for example. The Berne 3-Step Test is what we have to find a way to show compliance with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_three-step_test
Members shall confine limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to certain special cases
which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work
and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder
1 - Certain special cases: cases where a work is unavailable to a purchaser due to format or language barriers. Is this "special" enough?
2 - conflict with exploitation: the copyright owner is not currently exploiting (distributing to) the market segment in question.
3 - Unreasonable prejudice vs. rights holder: compulsory licensing still provides revenue to the rights holder if the work is in commercial distribution, but what if a rights holder wants to stagger distribution of a large inventory so as not to flood the market and lower interest in their products? This is Disney's stragety with release of their movies. Is it a "legitimate interest" for them to restrict access to their works this way?
The closest parallel to what we want may exist in the Orphaned Works statutes of Canada: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphaned_works
Other countries are also considering the Orphaned Works problem. The critical issue may be to get out of print works and works which have not been translated/converted to available formats classified as Orphaned Works. Currently the copyright holder retains the right to refuse to keep a work "in print" (in distribution) in most countries, even if someone else is willing to take on the cost of distribution. Somehow we need to convince the Powers That Be that this is not in the public interest. The US copyright office is also considering the problem and released a report
in Nov 2006 which at least recognizes the problem, though solutions are not proposed.
I'm quite serious about pursuing this. I invite everyone who is concerned about the DRM and e-babel situation to get involved in this discussion. If enough of us participate in the process of trying to get these laws updated, I think we can make a difference through this route.