Book Summit 16 and The Canadian Writers’ Summit (CWS) took place from June 15th – 19th 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The International Authors Forum was lucky enough to take part, along with several of our members.
Fighting for an author-friendly copyright framework
IAF’s first panel was ‘Copyright Matters: A Look at the Ongoing Pressure on Copyright Around the Globe’, as part of the Book Summit, which was hosted by the Book and Periodical Council and Humber College.
Nicola Solomon, representing the UK Society of Authors, described the challenges to copyright authors in the UK face; Barbara Hayes, from the UK Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, talked about what is happening to copyright in Europe; María Fernanda Mendoza, representing the interests of authors in Latin America, described the needs of authors in Latin America against the increasingly difficult conditions they work in and Katie Webb, of the International Authors Forum, informed the audience about IAF’s work at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, the organisation which regulates the global copyright framework, where IAF represents authors’ interests internationally.
An international picture of Public Lending Right (PLR)
The following day a session focussed on Public Lending Right: ‘Libraries, Lending, and Payments to Authors: Challenges and Opportunities for Public Lending Right Systems Around the World’. Canada’s PLR system – the only one in the Americas – has an exemplary reputation as a valued source of income for authors. Canada is also the proud owner of one of only four PLR schemes outside Europe alongside Israel, Australia and New Zealand. This panel again had an international dimension, including perspectives from the Netherlands, Latin America, Canada. Jim Parker, who works in partnership with IAF as coordinator of the International Public Lending Right Network, gave a global overview. It included perspectives of administrators, librarians, authors and lawyers involved in Public Lending Right schemes. As a representative of Latin America, where no countries have Public Lending Rights in place yet, María Fernanda Mendoza, former General Manager of the Mexican Center for the Protection and Promotion of Authors’ Rights (CeMPro), talked about why Public Lending Rights would be important to authors in Latin America.
The afternoon held a panel called ‘Rethinking the Contract: The Global Fair Contracts Initiative’. This area is central to IAF’s work, and the panel was an opportunity for different countries to share information about what they are doing to try and improve contract terms for the authors they represent – which are often grossly unfair. Representatives of authors from the UK, the US, Quebec and Latin America described the kinds of improvements that are needed for authors to achieve fair contracts and the action being taken by their representative bodies to bring about those changes.
Katie Webb talked through IAF’s work on fair contracts at the global level. Feedback from the audience indicated that the need to do something about this, globally, is urgent. The power of individual authors to effect change is so limited when they are negotiating with large publishing houses, but by working together as a united front and making a strong and serious case to publishers to explain that contract terms need to change to give authors a fair share of the proceeds of their work – it is time to make that change happen.
IAF thanks The Writers’ Union of Canada and The Canada Council for the Arts for making it possible for IAF to be at CWS, and for making us so welcome in Toronto.