Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Copyright Debate at EIBF #edbooksfest

The speakers were Colin Firth, music journalist and judge Mercury award, and Debi Gliori, children’s author Tobermory Cat,

Question: Does copyright do more harm than good to creativity?

Firth spoke of the tension between the copyright owner and the use of copyright, and he said that the owners are anxious. The Publishers are suffering too and see copyright as essential for creativity.

The Music Industry. Digital media makes copyright unnecessary as author can go direct now to the audience and therefore no longer need retail distribution. However publishers have quality control and there are also the curators who create the audience. There is more music than ever but much is not listened to.

Also digital distribution is not ‘free’. There is little infrastructure now to support new artists. One in ten in the record industry make money - supported by the control of copyright and what of those making money, such as the giants iTunes or Amazon and their not paying tax and giving nothing back?  And is music downloading simply publicity for live performing?

The Writers. Debi Gliori spoke of her situation as a children’s author and loosing money these days due to piracy.

She said she believed that the author's copyright should stand for the first twelve months past publication and after this there could then be free access so the author still made money from their work. She thought that education was the key thing.

She said that the loss of control of copyright meant these forces were ‘stealing the author’s futures’ and that the industry was turning itself inside out.
She spoke of artists ‘drawing from the realm of ideas’ and that it is what you did with your ideas that matters. 

And what of Academic Papers which are a valuable research tool and require open access?  The creative arts require the free expression and transmission of ideas. 
The US has stronger copyright Laws, which are mostly driven by the motion picture industry.  Meanwhile the pirates make their millions and there seems not enough protection for the artists.

There also needs to be a balance between the need for the survival of even the big book sellers. 
Someone said that they looked up Amazon for details on books and then purchased their books at their local bookshop.
As consumers we have a choice. Do we want faceless superstores or the personal smaller store who care about their product? Amazon and iTunes are convenient – but these businesses can be too big and we need to adjust models.
The VOTE went for copyright being good for creativity, after all artists do need to eat! I believe that it is vitally important that societies and those in power (as royalty used to do) should value the creative arts.

On the other hand.....my views.
This was an interesting and informed debate. There is also the question of the US now setting Copyright Laws to such lengthy time periods it can hinder the creativity of new artists. That is, it becomes more profitable to recycle old music than encourage new music, and the Labels can rely too heavily on their back catalogues.

And the enforcement of copyright for example would have prevented the use of the well used ‘Amen Break’ drum beat, which has led to a great deal of creativity in music.  

It seems like we need new models around how we view the need for artist's copyright ownership in our digital age - both protection and the freedoms to create.