Beware the Green light on copyright

skills for publishing

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License.

The days, weeks and months leading up to the UK general election revealed a host of plans, policies and pledges but who’d have thought that the issue of copyright would generate headlines?

The Green Party’s manifesto said the party aimed to “make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible” with the party’s policy website saying it would “introduce generally shorter copyright terms, with a usual maximum of 14 years”. It added that there was a need for systems which would “reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies” and that changes to copyright would be coupled with £500m more in funding for the arts, as well as a citizen’s income that would “allow many more people to participate in cultural creation”.

Of course ballot boxes up and down the land have now been counted and verified. We all know the result and funnily enough the issue raised by the Green Party appears to have since subsided. But it does serve to highlight both how vital this issue is on a national level and, via a massive author backlash to this idea, the importance on a personal level.

One particular comment from The Society of Authors worked to sum up much of the feeling within the industry. It said: “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.” Sentiments which are difficult to disagree with.

Copyright often sits hand-in-hand with rights and licensing in terms of the fact that many writers are aware of it but are not always clear on the ramifications or benefits. As such I encourage writers of all types to use this rise in the copyright profile to ensure that they are doing their utmost to protect their own copyright and intellectual property. Not to mention also getting to grips with rights and licensing to really maximise the potential of all their valuable copyrighted content.


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