Last Monday, the Authors Guild hosted the International Authors Forum (IAF) annual meeting, followed by an authors’ rights summit where representatives of authors’ rights organizations from around the world discussed topics of mutual concern. With the livelihoods of independent creators as tenuous as ever and markets that are increasingly global, it’s vital for the Guild to work with our colleagues around the world and exchange information about our respective domestic developments. We always learn a great deal from our international colleagues about ways we can help ensure that authors and other creators can thrive in the digital economy.
Our European colleagues spoke about their Public Lending Right (PLR) systems and the new E.U. Single Market Copyright Directive’s focus on author remuneration, while the U.S. author organizations discussed the increase in ebook piracy, as well as the need to amend our laws to combat online infringement and pass legislation to create a small copyright claims tribunal. A key takeaway was that the E.U. is years ahead of the U.S. in terms of respecting artists’ rights, and we have a lot we could learn from them. A Publishers Weekly article describes the panels in more detail.
The meetings wrapped up with a trip to D.C. The Guild joined IAF Secretariats Barbara Hayes (also Deputy Director of ALSC, the U.K. authors collecting society) and Luke Alcott, as well as Jim Parker, the Coordinator from the PLR International Network. Also attending were representatives of the Graphic Artists Guild, the Artist Rights Society, and the American Society for Collective Rights Licensing. The group met with the Register and legal staff of the Copyright Office, the Copyright Alliance, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’s Legislative Director, Zoe Oreck. Among other topics discussed, IAF and PLR International explained how PLR systems (where a small fee is paid to authors when a book is borrowed from a library) and small claims copyright courts work overseas, with the goal of introducing these ideas (and the ways in which they have been productive) to U.S. legislators and officials, and lay the groundwork for the Guild’s efforts to enact a U.S. small copyright claims court and to create a national endowment for libraries that would fund small payments to authors in a similar manner to PLR.
Photo credit: Jasmina Tomic