Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Writers' Riches

Writer and riches: these words seem to be an oxymoron, don’t they? Recently I wrote to the Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, asking his government to increase the Educational Lending Rights’ pool which has been stagnant since it was introduced in 2000.

In the 12 years since, I have published 20 more books, but my ELR payment has dropped $9,000. I’m not the only prolific author to be so disadvantaged. I pointed out the high government funding to the Australian Institute of Sport and (rightly) said that athletes don’t generate income for Australia as authors do. A survey published this week in the Australian Society of Authors’ bulletin proves my point. Read it, and let others in the industry know just how valuable a commodity authors are in our society:

A report by the Australian Copyright Council has found that copyright industries contributed $93.2 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2011, or 6.6% of gross domestic product. Employment in copyright industries constituted 8% of the Australian workforce.

Within the Australian economy, this contribution represents more value than retail trade but slightly less than manufacturing.

In a survey of Western, European and Asian economies employing a World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) framework, this contribution of copyright to gross domestic product was exceeded only by the US, Korea and Hungary. This survey did not include the UK. Yet Australian copyright industries have experienced a decline over the past five years compared with other primary industries.

The press and literature sector, which enjoyed a growth of 4% between 1997-2007, experienced negative growth of -3.3% between 2007-2011. This is a reflection of the industry’s weak recovery from the GFC, along with the challenges of digitisation, the enhanced ability of users to compare prices online, the increased risk of unauthorised copying, and the increased competitiveness of overseas products due to the high Australian Dollar.

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