The European Writer’s Council 2012 Author Rights Conference

On 4th of June, European Parliament hosted European Writers´ Council 2012 Authors´ Rights Conference on ´Striking the Right Balance between access, fair remuneration and authors´ rights´

MEP Marielle Gallo provided a welcoming and tour d´horizon. Apart from her political life as an MEP she’s also an author who feels strongly about IP protection, as well as staunch pro-ACTA supporter. She was a rapporteur on ACTA opinion in JURI committee (Legal Affairs), which to all amusement, requested for her name to be deleted from the report straight after rejection. During the welcoming speech she mentioned that it was a “difficult moment”.

As a representative of Amelia’s office, exile6e, at the conference, I was pretty much stepping into the dragons dens, as most of the participants were from different authors associations, who enthusiastically clapped for further IP protection. However I tried to keep an open mind and take a balanced, fair view of the whole debate, but without sacrificing development of the Internet. This view could also be found in some of the comments that participants made, such as Mrs Gallo comments that “solutions are required to find respect for balanced IP rights”. She highlighted that 6% of european labour is employed in creative industry, where authors are highly dependent on the intellectual property rights for their income.

Conference participants raised questions about the legal status of e-books, if they should be considered as a service or a product. MEP Cecilia Wikstrom highlighted some positive aspects of Internet for creative authors. Among number of points mentioned where that “Internet allows global reach, which maximises the possible demand”. She also stressed her belief that “demand for quality creative work will always exist”, as well as standing up for open access to documents. However she did not accept the reasoning for copyright to be fundamentally reformed, but hoped for authors remuneration to be included in future information society directive.

MEP Wikstrom was succeeded by Nick Yapp, writer, European Writers´ Council Board Member, and member of the Writers´ Guild of Great Britain (United Kingdom), he highlighted that current publishing business model is lagging behind the development of new technologies, and publishing industry required to find new models for remunerating authors, especially young and first time writers. Because its usually hardest for upcoming artist to break into the industry, especially that consumers will not be willing to pay for unheard authors work. Internet might be a globalising tool for the top authors, which helps them to become global celebrities, but increased competition for all other others makes it difficult.

The next speaker was Mathias Lair Laudet, a poet, critic, as well as Secretary-General of the Union des Ecrivains (France), he mentioned that digital publications should come under different legislation to physical works. His fellow panelist Jean Claude Bologne, a critic, scholar and a President of Societe des Gens de Lettres (France), encouraged further progress on orphan works at national and European level.

Followed by MEP Helga Trupel, who raised the possibility of a levy on cloud computing to remunerate authors. While Vanda Guerra, Director of Portuguese Society of Authors, highlighted important role of SME (small medium enterprise) entrepreneurialism in helping creators, by relieving the burden of logistics and bureaucratic administration in distribution of works.

Maureen Duffy, novelist, Honorary President of the Authors´ Licensing and Collecting Society (United Kingdom), encouraged authors to take central role in management of the content. She also agreed with Vanda Guerra call for SME´s to play a bigger role in distribution of works, as she said “there would be more authors writing rather than chasing micro-payments”. On open academic journals and educational material she didn’t appear to be very enthusiastic. By suggesting that “free for all is unlikely to provide quality material, but propaganda filled educational material”.

One of the guest to conference from reuter news, highlighted growing dangers to the rights of authors. Apparently the right to form trade unions is under threat; examples provided wereNetherlands,IrelandandSpain. The last panellist of the conference were Thorbjorn Ostrom, European Writers´ Council Board Member, Legal Counsel (L.L.M), the Swedish Writers´ Union (Sweden) and Anna Dunnebier, writer, European Writers´ Council Board Member and Vice President of the German Writers´ Union (Germany) who in subsequent order described the history of Pirate parties in their home country, as well as providing explicit quotes from members of Pirate party on authors copyrights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.