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Press Release: Could the UK be a creative haven for writers? With support from policymakers, yes, says new report

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17 August 2023 – The latest Authors’ Earnings Survey, from researchers at the CREATe Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, made for concerning reading. Author income is in sharp decline, the number of authors who can earn a living through writing is decreasing and publishing is riddled with demographic inequalities – with women, black and mixed-race authors earning less than their counterparts.

Against the backdrop of the US Writers’ strike, the outlook for the writing profession looks bleak. Yet according to the new Policy Briefing: Authors’ Earnings in the UK (written by the researchers behind the original survey and published by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre) corrective action could be taken to address these issues and even make the UK an attractive haven for writers.

The worrying trends found in the ‘UK Authors’ Earnings and Contracts 2022 Report’, commissioned and funded by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and undertaken by the CREATe Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, were widely reported on in mainstream media and the publishing trade press. Now, the Glasgow team have written a new report setting out corrective actions UK policy makers could consider, to improve the situation and to retain and even attract international talent.

The report invites policy makers and publishers to consider a range of soft (non – legally binding) and hard (legally-binding) interventions to sustain and diversify the writing profession in the UK.

The options proposed for consideration include;

  • Publisher declarations of a commitment to a minimum wage for commissioned authors and parity of treatment for all demographic groups.
  • Educational resources to ensure writers understand copyright and contractual law.
  • Mandatory, time-limited reversion rights.
  • Publisher transparency and reporting obligations.
  • Targeted changes in tax and social insurance treatment – for instance state support insurance schemes for writers that level the conditions between employed and self-employed workers.

Amy Thomas, Lecturer in Intellectual Property and Information Law, CREATe, University of Glasgow says:

“Many of the cultural and economic benefits of a thriving writing profession are being lost in the current UK system. As authors’ living conditions hit an all-time low, the UK has the opportunity to correct the course and create an attractive writing market for authors both at home, and from across the globe. Policy interventions are absolutely meaningful in helping to achieve this by creating mechanisms that help increase authors’ remuneration, to enhance their ability to licence their works, and ultimately, to keep their books being read.”

/ENDS

‘Policy Briefing: Authors’ Earnings in the UK’ is by Amy Thomas, Michele Battisti, Martin Kretschmer, University of Glasgow and available for download here: Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre | Insights for industry… (pec.ac.uk) (From 00.01 Thursday 17 August)

The policy briefing is published by the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre which is led by Newcastle University, with the Royal Society of Arts and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The report authors are available for interview.

Press contact: Alice Kent alice.kent@pec.ac.uk 07779029055 (Monday-Wednesday) and Anna Zabow 07713 619077 / anna.zabow@pec.ac.uk (Thursday & Friday)

/ENDS

  1. This policy briefing is based on the findings of CREATe’s UK Authors’ Earnings and Contracts 2022 Report, an independent report commissioned by the UK Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).
  2. The policy briefing is published by the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre which is led by Newcastle University, with the Royal Society of Arts and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
  3. About the Creative PEC The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (Creative PEC) works to support the inclusive and sustainable growth of the UK’s Creative Industries through the production of independent and authoritative evidence and policy advice. Led by Newcastle University, with the Royal Society of Arts the Creative PEC is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. www.pec.ac.uk and @CreativePEC
  4. About CREATe: CREATe is the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Centre. The name is an acronym for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise and Technology. It was established in 2012 as the result of a competition for a national centre for “copyright and new business models in the creative economy”. As the only UK research centre funded jointly by AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), CREATe conceived and delivered an interdisciplinary research programme at the intersection of law, technology, social sciences and humanities.

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