A fair deal for authors

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Communications Division, WIPO
p. 12 2014 | 2
for authors
By Catherine Jewell,
Communications Division,
Like us all, authors have to put food on the table a nd pay bills. However, in an in-
creasingly digitized ma rket and amid expectations, in some quarters, that a ll content
should be free, it is a struggle for m any authors to support themselves and to nanc e
their creative endeavors. Th e ofcial launch of the International Author s Forum (IAF), a
new organization represe nting authors (writers and visual artists) glob ally, took place
at WIPO in December 2013. A number of successfu l writers and artists – including
Maureen Duff y, Joanne Harris, Robert Levine and Ro berto Cabot – attended the
event to support the new Forum an d explain why copyright is importa nt to them.
The IAF is seeking to introduc e a global authors’ perspective to international copy right
policymaking circle s – something that has been acknowledge d as missing from these
discussions for some year s. By inviting authors’ organizations from around the worl d
to become members, the IAF a ims to give all authors the o pportunity to take part in
discussions about their rights.
“The global problems a re now so immense that we really need something which c an
support creators globa lly,” said the author, Maureen Duff y, who has been instru-
mental in galvanizing su pport for the IAF. “There are far too many countries with no
organizations to suppor t their local au thors and they tend to get ripped off and they
will be increasingly r ipped off if they are not made aware of what their rights are and
how they should be protected.”
Joanne Harris, author of the a cclaimed best-seller, Chocolat (see page 16), explained
that for her the value of copyright lay in the a bility it gives the creator to choose how
their work is used. Ms. Harris u nderlined the importanc e of “respect for the creator
of a work, be that a piece of literature, a photograph, a paintin g, a piece of music. I
want to know where and by whom my work is be ing used and reproduced,” she said.
“I don’t want it used without my permis sion, or plagiarized or misrepresented. That’s
why copyright exists; to protect the work and its author f rom abuse. We want the
public to read our books. We want to help schools a nd libraries. But we also want
to have the choice to say yes or no to these requests”.
Representing the voice of visu al artists, Roberto Cabot, called for the b roader appli-
cation of the Artists’ Resale R ight (ARR) as part of an on-going ca mpaign to ensure
that artists and their fam ilies benet, under certain condi tions, from any appreciation
in the value of their works as they chang e hands within the marketplace.
Robert Levine, a journ alist who is ercely engaged with the impact of the inter net on
creativity, also endorsed the IA F as a welcome addition to the international copyright
scene. “With so many organ izations advocating for publishers an d distributors it’s
nice to have one at WIPO that can also suppo rt authors,” he said.

To continue reading