Monday 23 April 2007

Texts Don't Grow on Trees

Texts Don't Grow on Trees – the Authors' Rights Awareness Campaign

The European Writers' Congress has launched a campaign which over the next two years, aims to raise public awareness of Authors' Rights. Texts don't grow on trees; they are the works of authors.

At a time when new digital distribution models are being developed worldwide – many libraries and publishing houses are already digitising their catalogues for publication on the web – the campaign focusses on the danger to authors' rights that this poses. This is not a dream of the future but is happening now, and very soon many protected texts will be freely downloadable.

Easy access to texts is good for everyone, including writers, but the dangers must not be overlooked. Plagiarism is already well established as a negative consequence: In our universities, tutors have been aware for some time that students have been copying and pasting from the work of others on the internet. The novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan was called back by her publishing house Little, Brown and Company shortly after publication when it was discovered that great parts of the book had been copied from other novels.

In this age of easy availability and access to texts, authors' moral and copyrights are being overlooked; either wilfully or through ignorance. There is a growing and rapid desensitisation to the fact that behind every work there is an author; who's livlihood and reputation rests upon the recognition of their authorship. Freedom of access is increasingly being confused with freedom to take without permission or payment.

As authors we want our campaign "Texts don't grow on trees" to sensitise our public to our rights and their responsibilities. Unlike the music industry, we don't want to threaten prosecution or wage war on people. Rather we want to open a dialogue with them in order that they understand and accept our position: Yes please download our texts, but please also respect our moral and copyrights and our right to be remunerated for our work.

Even the most advanced copy protection technology is inferior to the understanding and good will of our public. The best copy protection is that which we can place in their consiousness. We call it Respect.

This campaign needs your support, because it is your campaign too. Spead the message. Go to - - download the banner: put it on your website and even in your emails. Thank you.

For the European Writers' Congress
Adi Blum
Graham Lester George

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