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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 12:21 GMT
Creators fight for copyrights
Sheet music
Composers are worried about their intellectual property
British composers and writers are forming a lobbying body to protect the the rights to their work, which they say are under threat from broadcasters and internet piracy.

The Creators' Rights Alliance is being launched at the National Film Theatre in London.

The alliance says creative people from all sectors are facing threats to their livelihood because broadcasters and the media are increasingly taking complete control of the copyright in their works.

In addition, new technologies like the internet are encouraging a growing disrespect for copyright itself, the alliance believes.

The alliance includes organisations like the National Union of Journalists, The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, The Directors' Guild, the British Actors Equity Association, the Musicians' Union, The Society of Authors and the Association of Photographers.

'Unsatisfactory contracts'

Creators' Rights Alliance chair David Ferguson told BBC News Online: "The creation of the Alliance was promoted by the level of bullying of creators into unsatisfactory contracts."

Ferguson, who has written theme music for TV series including Cracker, Bravo 2 Zero and The Woman in White, said, "As a composer the bulk of my income comes from broadcasting royalties.

"But increasingly for television I'm having to sign contracts where I have to give away 50 percent of my income, as I would to a music publisher.

If you take away people's copyrights and stop rewarding them then ultimately they stop doing creative work

David Ferguson, Creators' Rights Alliance

"But these companies do none of a music publisher's work, all they do is collect my income.

"Journalists and authors are also getting particularly anxious about this."

Ferguson does not believe that the advent of new copying and communication technologies should weaken copyright.

Creative work

"Copyright law is perfectly flexible enough - in fact the new technologies make it easier to track copyrights.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson wants the Alliance to be a 'banner-waver'

"But if you take away people's copyrights and stop rewarding them then ultimately they stop doing creative work."

The Creators' Music Alliance calls on broadcasters, producers and publishers to:

  • Not to take all rights from creators, but to negotiate fair licence for their use;
  • Allow creators to keep the 'moral rights' in their work;
  • Let creators reuse their own material and exploit it in other media after the initial contracted use.

Ferguson said, "I very much hope the Creators' Rights Alliance becomes the banner-waver , a lobbying, campaigning organisation for people in the creative industries."

Speakers at Wednesday's conference include writers AS Byatt, Maureen Duffy and Alan Plater, cartoonist Steve Bell, film director Maurice Phillips and journalist Alex Pascall.

See also:

13 Mar 01 | Business
Napster deflects blame for delays
07 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood faces piracy battle
05 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Composer sues over Bond theme 'slur'
05 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Pooh deal could help struggling authors
11 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Royalties deal 'threatens' composers
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