LONDON, June 3 /PRNewswire/ --
- Dr Ian Gibson MP Hosts House of Commons Reception for All Party Parliamentary Writers Group - 2 June 2008
Dr Gibson hosted a reception on the House of Commons Terrace last night attended by Members of both Houses who had the opportunity to meet some of the nation's best known writers.
"It is vital that we engage the widest possible parliamentary community with the nation's writers to discuss the key issues around their rights at this time," said Dr Gibson.
"Writers are eagerly embracing a new world where their work can be distributed to a global audience via the internet. However we must ensure that the issue of their intellectual property rights, both moral and fiscal, are safeguarded. Creativity is central to our economy; if we do not support our writers, this nation, internationally renowned and respected for its creative excellence, will stumble and fall."
The reception was attended by 200 people including Members of Parliament and Peers representing the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalist Parties. Dr Gibson welcomed the assembled audience and was joined on the platform by The Minister for Culture, Creative Industries & Tourism, The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, who made the key-note speech and poet Wendy Cope who read her poem on the importance of copyright.
Amongst the writers attending were Antony Beevor, Doris Lessing, Mavis Cheek, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Drabble, Michael Holroyd, Shirley Hughes, Helen Fielding, Gillian Cross, Bamber Gascoigne, Claire Tomalin, Stephen Poliakoff (playwright), Richard Barber, Ben Okri, Tracey Chevalier, John Agard and Philippa Gregory.
Celebrated journalist and novelist, Joan Smith commented: "Lots of politicians read books and I think we were all delighted that so many came to meet us - it was a rare opportunity to explain to legislators just how tough it is to earn your living as a writer. Many of the writers who attended are now established enough to make a living from their craft, but they are not typical. In the UK a typical writer earns a third less than the national average wage and 60% of them need to have a second job. When you consider this, you begin to appreciate just how important copyright and other secondary rights income-streams are for survival."
The All Party Writers Group (APWG) was set up in November 2007 in order to "represent the interests of all writers; to safeguard their intellectual property rights and ensure they receive a fair level of recognition and reward for their contribution to the economy and society as a whole."
The group is a forum for elected Parliamentarians in Westminster to consider and discuss matters of importance to writers. As a focal point for authors' interests, with its links to UK writer organisations, APWG is well placed to draw attention to the current issues facing writers amongst an audience of decision-makers at Westminster and beyond. It is chaired by Dr Ian Gibson MP with Dennis McShane MP as vice-chair, Ed Vaizey MP as Secretary and Chris Bryant as Treasurer. The latest information on the activities of the forum and issues under discussion can be found at http://www.apwg.co.uk The affairs of the APWG are administered by the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS).
"Writers are facing as many challenges as musicians with the prevalence of the re-use of works on the internet," says Owen Atkinson, ALCS's CEO. "These challenges include some of the recommendations for implementation following the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property in 2007, internet piracy and concerns for users over the Government's '3 strikes and you're out' initiative. At ALCS we are determined to find a balance between users' needs and creators' rights and are delighted to support the APWG."
ALCS is a not-for-profit company, set up in 1977 in the wake of the campaign to establish Public Lending Right to help writers protect and take advantage of their secondary rights. The Society is committed to ensuring that the rights of writers, concerning their intellectual and moral property, are fully respected and fairly rewarded. To achieve this, the Society is also committed to fostering an awareness of copyright issues in the writing community and beyond.
Notes for Editors
About All Party Groups:
All Party Groups provide an opportunity for Members of Parliament to help keep the Government and Opposition informed of opinion both inside and outside Parliament on policy issues.
ALCS collects fees on behalf of the whole spectrum of UK writers: novelists, film & TV script writers, literary prize winners, poets and playwrights, freelance journalists, translators and adaptors, as well as thousands of professional and academic writers who include nurses, lawyers, teachers, scientists, and college lecturers. All writers are eligible to join ALCS: further details on membership can be found at http://www.alcs.co.uk
The Society collects fees that are difficult, time-consuming or legally impossible for writers and their representatives to claim on an individual basis: money that is nonetheless due to them. Fees collected are distributed to writers twice a year in March and September. Since its inception, ALCS has distributed over GBP170 million to the nation's writers.
ALCS - Sources of Income:
ALCS has developed highly specialised knowledge and sophisticated systems which track writers and their work (both print and audiovisual) against various secondary uses for which they are due payment. The main sources of fees due are secondary royalties from: photocopying (through the Copyright Licensing Agency which is jointly owned by the ALCS and the Publishers Licensing Society); international Public Lending Right; cable retransmission; fees from the Educational Recording (ERA) and sources such as blank tape and machine levies for private copying and small miscellaneous literary rights).
ALCS - The International Picture:
The Society is recognised internationally as a leading authority on copyright matters and authors' interests. It maintains a close watching brief on all matters affecting copyright both in the UK and around the world and makes regular representations to the UK Government and to the European Commission. ALCS pays royalties to member writers based in 137 countries around the globe. ALCS has reciprocal arrangements with over 50 collecting societies around the world.
Wendy Cope - 'Copyright'
This poem on copyright is available on request from ALCS. Please call the numbers listed above.
Contact information: ALCS, The Writers' House, 13 Haydon Street, London EC3N 1DB Tel: +44-207-264-5700; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Contact: Becca Wyatt: +44-1403-780-383; +44-7801-061-420; ALCS, Alison Baxter: +44-207-264-5700