green copyright symbol

Greens and copyright: why writers need worry

UPDATE: Since the publication of this news item the Green Party has issued a statement, outlining its plans to review its copyright policy. At the Green Party’s conference on 26 September 2015 there was also a vote to remove the preference for shorter copyright terms.

The Green Party came under a Twitter storm last week because someone found out that they wanted to slash the length of time that copyright applies to literary and artistic works, including screenplays, scripts, novels and other creative material.

The Greens’ manifesto states that they would “make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible”. But linking across to a more detailed Green policy paper, we find that the policy really states: “Our long-term vision includes a proposed copyright length of 14 years”.

Under the Berne Convention and EU directives, copyright currently lasts for 70 years after the author’s death.

WGGB General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: “This is a wild and mad policy that has been hidden away in obscure Green policy documents. It looks to me to be related to the unholy alliance in the European Parliament between the Greens and the Pirate Party.

“Now it has come into the open, we must protest strongly to Green Party candidates. If a writer creates a successful novel, screenplay or videogame at the age of 30, he or she would lose all rights – and therefore all royalties, residuals and other payments – by the age of 44.

“This would be a disastrous reversion of copyright practice, a breach of international treaty law, and a grotesque injustice to creators. I call on the Green Party to withdraw this policy and rethink its position from first principles.”

Illustration above: Prather