logo@2xIn response to the earlier outcry from writers and other creatives against the UK Green Party’s apparent proposal to reduce the duration of copyright to just 14 years – with also some initial ambiguity over whether this was 14 years after the creator’s death or 14 years after the work’s first appearance – the Greens have released a communique on their party website that only appears to make things worse.

The UK Society of Authors said in response to the original furore:

Our stance is that copyright needs ‎strengthening, not weakening. Authors and other creators make their livelihood from their intellectual creations and a period of only 14 years would not allow them to fully benefit from their work. In practice it is likely to mean that once the period expires large corporations will pick up the work and continue to develop, license and exploit it without rewarding the creator. With authors’ earnings already far below the national average, such a proposal would mean that authors could not survive.

The Greens have now announced that “The Green Party is undertaking a review of its copyright policy, including inviting representatives of the creative sector, such as writers, artists, musicians, illustrators, and composers to a special session of its next conference.” Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said: “The Greens are the only party where every member has a say in our policies. Inviting artists and creatives to our next conference will help make sure future policy on copyright is developed in partnership with those it most affects.”

This really makes you wonder why the policy wasn’t developed in partnership – or apparently even in consultation – with those it most affects in the first place. And a friendly invitation to join the Greens in their party conference hardly sounds like an adequate basis for consultation – more like a thinly disguised recruiting drive. Is this really supposed to be politics with a difference? It sounds more like more of the same old careless and arrogant indifference to the plight of the politicked-upon.


  1. The core problem isn’t hard to diagnosis. When I lived in Seattle, I often did inside security at a venue that had one of the best views of Puget Sound in the city. Environmental events were often held there. Uniformly, those attending did not seem very bright and, odd as it sounds, they actually displayed a less than average interest in the marvelous scenery. They were, however, fascinated by recyclable bags, apparently collecting them avidly.

    Vague sentimentality, unconnected with good sense, careful thinking, or even consistency is a trademark of most rank-and-file greens. Seattle, for instance, is known for its mild climate, although the temperature there can swing 20 degrees between breakfast and lunch. Yet these poor, silly, deluded people think that the world will collapse if the average temperature rise perhaps four degrees in the space of a century.

    That’s why it’s all too easy to imagine their less-than-clever counterparts in the UK blundering into this 14 -year copyright mess and even thinking it’s reasonable to make that 14 years after publication rather than the author’s death. As the far more sensible UK Society of Authors notes, Hollywood would get rich off that. The big studios could easily wait that long to turn many popular books into movies, depriving their authors of even a penny.

    Worse still, many greens actually think this UK-produced video is funny:

    That video answers Paul’s question, “This really makes you wonder why the policy wasn’t developed in partnership – or apparently even in consultation – with those it most affects in the first place.”

    Greens are not into “partnership.” In fact, the green elite, including many celebrities, are more interested in imposing their agenda on non-believers than in applying it to their own lives. “Private jets for me. Crowded, dirty buses for you.”

    That’s why imposing ridiculous copyright changes on authors is quite in fitting with their mindset. They may have blundered into this one, but it’s in keeping with their general modus operandi.

  2. First, I agree than 14 years is too short. But what we have now is far, far too long. Is there a risk media corps would just sit back and wait if it were a 25 or 30 year term? The point with many of these properties is strike while the iron is hot. To see a book reach a height of popularity and decide you’re going to wait a couple decades to make what you expect will be a highly profitable film really doesn’t track. What percentage of popular fiction that reached bestseller level is even relevant 20 or 30 years later, let alone strong enough to support a sizable licensing investment from a film studio? It could actually work in just the opposite way. A popular book with a limited time of exclusivity could generate a premium for those rights. And such a limit would cut both ways. We could use their stuff too. The presumption that licensing rights fees to media companies should be the foremost determiner of copyright terms is a bit of a false notion anyway. Technology has made the means of production cheaper to the point that the costs are well within reach of individual creators. The traditional means of distribution for these media companies are breaking down. How much longer is the theater (or even DVDs) going to be relevant to the film industry? Physical bookstores, while still chugging along, are operating on thinner and thinner margins. Something like cheap same day delivery could really put the nail in many of those coffins. And where do you even buy CDs anymore? Claiming that shortened copyright terms would only benefit the corporations is strange given that the currently existing super long copyright are designed primarily for the benefit of corporations. Or do you think it makes sense to have a copyright system where the work is controlled by someone else for longer after the artist is dead than it is by them while they’re alive? Our current system protects the rarest of the rare, the work that still moves the profit needle in a big way 50 or 60 years or more after it first appeared. It’s not really even relevant to 99.9% of the work created, and is often detrimental to it. Artists shouldn’t sell themselves so short as to statutorally ingrain copyright protections to benefit licensees in the hopes they’ll be benevolent enough to share more of the money they make. And if there’s genuine concern they’ll sit on their hands for a decade or two just to cut authors out of licensing fees, then these are definitely not the kind of people we should allow copyright to be structured to best suit.

  3. We need to get away from a one size fits all copyright regime. I suggest allowing 7 years by default. If, at the end of that time, the copyright holder wishes to renew for a further 7 years, charge them $100 for the privilege. After that period they could renew for 7 more years for $1000 and then the next 7 for $10000. And so on for as long as they consider it profitable. My scribblings would enter the public domain after 7 years but no doubt JK Rowling could justify 42 or 49 years protection.

    I make no suggestion as to where the money should go.

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