Get on any number of commentating, opinion blogs, like Crikey.com and the leading newspaper online blogs and you’ll find a host of passionate people arguing their corner regarding the proposed lifting of Territorial Copyright on Books.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen such passion lashing back and forward since the days after Princess Di died in that high-speed car crash in France … you remember …
‘MI5 and the Palace organised it!’ ‘No, it was the paparazzi.’ ‘I swear Arab terrorists are involved!’
Blah, blah, blah. I remember thinking, ‘Why the hell didn’t the silly woman put her seatbelt on at that speed!’
But I digress.
Re the current debate on Territorial Copyright in the online media, you don’t just get the occasional reasoned debate, you get name-calling, insults, irrational arguments and abuse.
I’ve been following one of these on Crikey.com – poor Shane Maloney copped a serve, as did Mem Fox – sensibly, neither replied to the abuse. No point arguing with unreasonable, narrow-minded, faceless bloggers.
If you get on to Courier Mail online, be prepared to throw your hat into the ring, have your say and run. Red-neck commentators are out in force – but that’s pretty usual up here in my neck of the woods, in fact, it’s fun to toss a ball in the bull-ants’ nest occasionally.
But, of course, the anti-author brigade aren’t just in Queensland, they’re all over the place.
Why is this? Do Australians think we earn so much money on royalties we lounge in our spa baths drinking caffè lattes as we tap out our next bestsellers on our little Netbooks? And that we’re spunging off the poor working man and woman? That’s the impression I’m getting as I tour the opinion pages.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Authors make as little as 6 – 10% a book and that’s only if the book is sold for its Retail Rec Price at a bookseller. If an author’s books are picked up by the school discount market and distributed that way, they could be facing even less royalties. If the book is illustrated, well, guess what? That (possible) 10% is split in half.
It’s imperative to let Australians know these facts. Dislike of the cultural industries and anti-intellectualism should not colour the debate.
Abolishing the Parallel Import Restrictions will eventually rip a very large hole in the fabric of Australian publishing. Remember: the US and the UK prohibit by law any threats to their Parallel Import Restrictions. Why allow it to happen here?
If you want to do something to help in a practical way write to the MPs of those departments involved in the final decision (see the page on this blog). Make an appointment and go talk to your local MP about your concerns; ask them to pass it on to the Cabinet, Opposition or MPs holding the balance of power. Write letters to the editors. Talk to your local P&C; visit your school’s librarian, ask their opinions regarding this issue.
A side issue: People who bad-mouth authors, artists and musicians see no value in creativity. They see it as a waste of time and of Government funding. Why do you think this is so?