"Free is not fair" won't make authors richer, but fixing publishers' contracts will

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/21/lunch-money-for-bullies.html

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This essay on copyright by Rebecca Giblin is some of the best commentary on the need to reform Australia’s unfit copyright laws, and the bullshit fed to writers by the Copyright Agency and the Big Five Publishers.
It’s also worth noting elsewhere that the Copyright Agency says “We pay more than $100 million a year to content creators for the use of their works.” (https://www.copyright.com.au/about-us/governance/annual-reports/copyright-agency-annual-report-2016/)…but, the Copyright Agency diverts funds meant for authors to $15m fighting fund (https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/copyright-agency-diverts-funds-meant-for-authors-to-15m-fighting-fund-20170420-gvol0w.html). The same article says of the Copyright Agency: “Its most recent annual report shows it paid its top three executives more than $250,000 each”.
I find this an egregious imbalance because, as Giblin wrote, “Australian authors were found to earn an annual average of just $12,900 from their writing work; the median, at $2,800”.
Curiously, the Copyright Agency is run by people attached to News Corp, which controls about 70% of the media in Australia. Can we expect a fair and balanced reporting of copyright matters in Australia? I doubt this, since when the Productivity Commission (an ostensibly independent government organisation that’s lately been stacked by appointments who’re friends with our hard-right, neocon government) first started making noises about copyright reform, Australia’s media large and small started publishing articles that read awfully like hastily-rebadged press releases written by the same hand, and which hit the same talking-points in favour of the Copyright Agency. IMHO, one could easily conclude they’re a bunch of rent-seeking standover merchants with a business model akin to the Mafia’s, and that they little concern for the wellbeing of writers upon who they fed like vampires.
Disclosure: I’ve earned my bread and butter for the last 18 or so years by writing.

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I’ve noticed on copyright that some artists go into severe “temporarily embarrassed millionaire” mode, as if the copyright regime is what is hurting their pocketbooks and that they all have the capacity to become copyright barons.

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