Thursday 23 April 2015

An Open Letter to Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party

Dear Natalie Bennett,

Your party, which state in their Culture, Media and Sports policy that "Culture is essential to human fulfilment. As a human need, it enhances the economy both directly and indirectly: where people are more fulfilled they are likely to contribute more to their work and to society. In a ‘Green’ society people of all ages and backgrounds would have access to participate in and enjoy all types of arts and cultural activities" and have condemned government cuts to arts funding, have released this policy:

I am flabbergasted. Honestly, I don't know what to think. Except that maybe – just maybe – you and your party haven't actually considered what this policy would actually mean for creative people.

As it stands, copyright begins as soon as a piece of work (in whatever form) is created. With the exception of publishing layouts and broadcasts, copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author/creator and 70 years after their death.

This is a good thing. A very good thing.


Firstly, there's the financial consideration. I don't make a living solely from my writing – I may never be able to; authors' earnings from their writing alone are considerably down, as shown in this article by the BBC. But it does make me some money. If you take away people's right to own their work after 14 years, you also take away their right to earn money from it. Please don't underestimate my words when I say this could, quite literally, ruin them.

But there's also the issue of creative control. If, in 14 years, my work were to become public domain, anyone could do anything they like with it. And you know what? That's not on. I work hard to write my books. I've made a lot of sacrifices – this has not been an easy path to choose. So the thought that someone could take my work and change it – perhaps use it for something I don't condone – all within my lifetime – makes me feel a bit sick.

And now, let's discuss the next policy – legalising peer-to-peer sharing when it's not done as a business.

No. No.

This is pirating. It already happens, on a massive and frightening scale – very often not done as a business – and it strips creatives of thousands of pounds of income that they have a right to. In a world where creative work is increasingly undervalued, this really does feel like the final nail in the coffin.

'But creative work is fun!' people might say. 'It's not a necessity.' Except… those clothes they're wearing? Designed by a creative. That phone they use? Designed by a creative. The vehicles they travel in, the houses they live in…? I could go on. As your party said themselves, creativity underpins our entire culture. It is not a luxury. And I don't think anyone working in the creative industries should have to give away their work for free unless they choose to, which is a very different thing indeed.

So please, Natalie Bennett, reconsider this insane policy. Creatives – and future generations of creatives – deserve much better than this.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned author.

1 comment:

  1. Please tell me you sent this - and let us know what she replies!