Prizes have been in the news a lot recently. Last week I reported on the brouhaha following the longlisting of a self-published novel for France's Prix Renaudot. This week we hear that Haruki Murakami has turned down his shortlisting for the alternative Nobel Prize (no official award is being made this year). I have spent much of my indie life campaigning for greater access to literary prizes. I still believe that is vital to our evolution in the landscape. But it is good from time to time to sit back and think what prizes are for – for us as authors? For booksellers? For society in a wider sense, or something else entirely?
EU Copyright Reform Goes Ahead
One story has absolutely dominated the news this week, and you will be unsurprised to learn how excited I have been about it. At the end of last week, the European Union voted to pass copyright reform legislation. It’s true that we will have to wait until this is enacted in member states’ national legislation, and then interpreted by courts, to find out exactly what this means. But we know a lot. And we know who is happy and who isn’t.
There are two headlines, as you will know if you have been following here. The first is Article 11’s so-called “link tax”. This allows content creators to charge for substantial sharing of their material, as would happen on aggregation sites. Second, Article 13 requires sites to ensure that all third parties putting out content on their site own the rights to it. That means if people write guest blogs for you, it is your responsibility to ensure their material is their own. It is worth noting that there are fair use and small user exemptions to these, but what exactly these protect is as yet unclear.
It’s worth taking a little look at what various groups are saying about the new copyright rules. This post in the Bookseller outlines the industry groups, like the Society of Authors, welcoming it. They point to the ability of creators to make money from their work. It is worth noting, as Cory Doctorow does (in fairness, he would, wouldn’t he), that these bodies represent creative industries not the creatives themselves. Internet and internet industry groups are not so keen, seeing the laws as stifling creativity.
In other news, Storytel has been under the spotlight this week. The digital platform has been expanding aggressively of late. But now it seems that not all who use its platform do so on the same terms. When it comes to audiobooks it seems Bonnier, who have put their weight behind Storytel, get vastly superior terms. Maybe this will help Amazon make the decision to pursue operations in Scandinavia.
Doors Opening at Amazon
Talking of Amazon, the behemoth's latest exercise in soft power may be of interest to those who have eschewed CreateSpace and KDP Print for a short print run. They have just launched Storefronts. The programme will give greater visibility to small businesses selling through Amazon. Specifically it will allow them to create more of a brand. Their Amazon pages will feel more like their own. This all sounds like a clever wheeze to keep customers within the Amazon fold while they browse. But as booksellers are one of the target business groups for the programme, that offers some interesting possibilities. Indies are already their own publishers. Maybe we will increasingly become our own booksellers.
You couldn't write it…
Crime fans will know the story that Sue Grafton, author of the legendary Alphabet Murder series, first put pen to paper after coming up with a perfect way to dispatch her newly divorced husband. It would appear Nancy Crompton-Brophy lacked Grafton's pragmatism. Instead of putting the plot in a book, the crime novelist would appear to have decided that a book isn't the best setting for her creations. Last week she was arrested for the murder of her husband. Sounds like she should have stuck to writing.
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Thank you for sharing the latest news and links to it, Dan. I’m still mulling over some of the changes, the potential ramifications for them, although I’m hoping some of these alterations will discourage piracy.
Interesting, Dan, though I have to say in respect of the Society of Authors that Cory is wrong. The Society of Authors is a Union, so does represent the creatives themselves.
“This means if people right guest blogs for you…” Me thinks you need to proofread your article again…
Interesting post, Dan.
This “The programme will give greater visibility to small businesses selling through Amazon. Specifically it will allow them to create more of a brand. Their Amazon pages will feel more like their own.” in particular. I’ve recently been trying to set up Amazon Ads – and have been completely stymied. It wasn’t until some way into the process with Amazon’s help-elves that it became apparent that this is because I am not in America. I use the same payment (in and out) facility on Amazon.com that I do on Amazon.co.uk – but ‘the system’ (all hail the bally system!) will not let me set up an Amazon ad, in the States, (to run presumably in both US and UK) using my one and only payment method. Weird huh? Have you come across this problem for UK authors before?
I think Nancy L. Crampton-Brophy took her promo a bit too far…
What worries me more is this:
“Article 11 was effectively called a “link tax”, where if any publication linked to any other publication, they would need to pay a licensing fee to that publication or face a fine. Now, Article 11 states that a hyperlink and “individual words” are allowed to be shared without paying a licensing fee, but it doesn’t actually specify what “individual words” is defined by, so does that mean 1 word? Does that mean a sentence? It doesn’t say.”
(I wouldn’t be allowed to paste those snippets under article 11.)
I’ve read interpretations stating this literally means one word. I don’t think the EU parliament members who voted “yes” understand how search engines gather content. Not to mention linking to others’ blogs with no intention other than to spread the word. While I understand that this is supposed to limit the amount of websites such as The Passive Voice (whom I follow, but disapprove of the fact PG reposts even 3/4 of the article content with one sentence comment of his own), it would need to be defined more precisely. But how?
Something tells me this is going to end the same way as the “cookie consent” banners, which now inform in very small print that if you just close the pop-up you accept all cookies and trackers. One of the news websites I check states that if you _scroll_ the page, that also means you accept everything…