Working 14 years post-death, what a way to make a living

I believe that people should be able to make a living from writing.

I believe that should your work be of a quality, or interest, where it creates a legacy, then you and your chosen ones should be in a position to benefit from it.

I know the hardship of people expecting you to do something ‘for the love of it’. In my day job I work with carers who, for the majority, receive no pay at all for devoting 24/7/365 to caring for children. People get very abusive online whenever pay is mentioned for these social care professionals, and yet there isn’t a single bit of recognition for just how bad the world would be without them working ‘for the love of it’.

Without the armies of carers, without the army of artists, our world would be a weaker and a sadder one.

To their detriment, carers care because if they didn’t then no one else would, and artists create because if they didn’t then no one else would. The love that drives these people on is the very reason why others target them for criticism when pay is discussed.

To do it for love is honourable, but if you make a mistake you’re ‘unprofessional’, to do it for pay is ‘greed’ and you shouldn’t be allowed. However, battle lines should be drawn carefully, and proper thought should go into commentary before it’s made public.

(I’m curious as to who decided to start the copyright non-story on UNESCO world copyright day…)

I have been saddened to see people declaring that they’ll not vote for the Green Party based on the belief that a proposal from the Green Party suggested that they’d revert copyright for authors, musicians, artists and so on to 14 years.

Already Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, has clarified to say that it would mean creative works were copyrighted for 14 years after death, rather than from the time of creation as some thought.

“There’s been some concern expressed in recent days about an old Green Party recommendation that the copyright period be reduced to 14 years – as I understand it that’s 14 years after the creator dies, not 14 years from the point at which their work is first copyrighted. The proposal isn’t in our general election manifesto because it is just a proposal – not something we want to introduce as a priority in the next 5 years. What is in the manifesto is a commitment to copyright laws that protect creators – fairer, more flexible and shorter. To bring the law up to date to better reflect the demands of the digital age.  To increase government arts funding by £500 million a year, helping to keep local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open. And to better support fair pay productions in the arts.”

While this may seen as a clarification, or even a slight backtrack, it’s not exactly “We’ll properly fund the NHS…” and then getting rid of 30,000 nurses is it?

I’m not massively saddened that they’d not vote Green, because let’s face it, however many people do they’ll probably only win one seat as good people tend to be spread out whereas the idiots of UKIP congregate around certain areas. What did sadden me is that people I believed to be strong thinkers, people of integrity, people who see the point in being the other voice, so quickly turned against a party who have put themselves out to ridicule from the masses with their strong desire to stand up for something. But they still stood up.

While they may lack political experience, and I’ve got no idea why they’re not begging Caroline Lucas to take charge again, you have to admit the Green party have been telling it as it is, and they’ve been doing well. They’ll lose a certain amount of potential votes on May 7 because people will bottle it and vote for those they believe could get in, rather than by conscience, but that’s what happens with fledgling parties.

While we’re on politics, the writer Dave Bryant reminded me the competition between the two biggest parties to show publicly that they’re all for cutting the arts now:

Lab promise 

Writers have historically had reputations as scrappers. Those people who put their nose exactly where it’s not wanted so as to give a voice to those who aren’t able to have one themselves. They’re the fighters of oppression, they’re the bastions of truth, the light in the darkness…but then someone comes along and is interpreted as saying that maybe one day they may possible think about considering changing copyright and bang! All that resolve dissolves in a flash.

It’s easy to campaign to save the NHS, but it’s harder to campaign when you know that to ultimately achieve you must personally make sacrifices. Even if, as in this case, the sacrifice would be made after death.

Ironically, it was lazy writing, from whoever wrote the Green Party statement, that caused the initial outcry.

Get involved

I believe the outrage, which seems to have almost reached a response to a Katie Hopkins article level, has damaged the reputation of writers. Some voices have been used in a way I haven’t seen for drowned migrants, the ‘rise’ of UKIP, or the systematic destruction of the NHS by the Lib Dems and the Tories, and I find that really disappointing.

idiot tweet

This particular online outrage has shown that both the right and left, the good and bad, are susceptible to creating outrage and being exposed as not thinking things through when they’re upset, and so maybe, just maybe, we should all take a breath and have a look at the facts before expressing opinions.

When newspapers ask people for comment, most will do it to get their name out there. Don’t read too much into it, there isn’t a need to take much notice of opinion on policy until there is real clarity on the policy.


I do think a lot of people, like the person I’ve made anonymous above, have missed a huge point:

You don’t have to agree with everything a political party does.

If someone doesn’t vote Green because of this, but votes for anyone else, then surely we can only assume that they believe in every single policy of that party..?

Or if this was the straw that broke the back of your belief in the Green Party…you must have a strong stomach to stick with unneeded nuclear weapons bobbing about our shoreline…

One must surely be able to see, given the incredible reaction of the ‘right on’ about copyright because of one day of Twitter outrage and newspaper coverage, how UKIP and the like, fuelled by years of hateful newspaper rhetoric, can exist in the way that they do?

We shouldn’t be working against political parties, we should be joining them, shaping them and changing the conversation to something positive.

Going forward

As being an author appears to still be sitting at the top of the most desired job list, and with self-publishing facilitating not only the publication of some absolutely brilliant pieces of writing but also some terrible unedited dross, then we have to move forward and evolve how we can make a living from our words because the market is becoming flooded.

I don’t believe that in 14, or 100, years after my death people will read my book. What I am concerned about however is that 14, or 100, years after my death is whether they’ll be a sustainable NHS, and a world that isn’t melting because of climate change.

Would I want copyright changed to 14 years from the point of creation? No. Would I want it changed to 14 years after my death? Don’t give a damn.

I’d be curious to hear thoughts on the recent story that Joseph Goebbels’ estate are trying to claim royalties for the use of copyrighted material from his diaries. My instinct is that copyright shouldn’t be a bought and sold commodity and so I don’t believe that the estate of Goebbels’ has any claim. Copyright should be there to protect the individual creator, and to serve as a legacy for individuals selected by the creator. Why should McCartney have to pay to play Hey Jude?

If you were actually going to vote for the Green Party and if copyright is what stops you, then you really haven’t made the effort to read any of the other political parties manifestos.

In case you’re wondering I’m voting Labour mainly to get the Lib Dems, and then hopefully Cameron out. I feel that the Labour Party are abusing the historical support of Labour voters in some of their approach – but it’s better than the Tories. I was considering voting Green I’m in a marginal seat where I suspect more Labour voters than Lib Dems will go to the Greens, who won’t win, and a big Green swing would lose of for Labour and see the Lib Dems home.

The penny is starting to drop…:





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