Archive for April, 2015

Twitter went crazy today with artists, writers, musicians and other creatives reacting against the Green Party policy on copyright.

**Warning, this blog post may contain political opinion**

Copyright is a strange beast. For many people, it’s an inconvenience standing between them and content they would like to access, copy or distribute but can’t, or shouldn’t, because someone owns it. I remember being in this group when I wanted to photocopy books for study at university, and did so on occasion, under the disapproving glare of posters above the photocopier.

For others it is the only thing that protects them from having the things they create exploited by opportunists in the first group. Now, as a writer, I’m in this group.

A policy document from the Green Party came to light today in which stated the following…

The Green Party: Policy

As a producer of so called “cultural products” this scares me beyond words. My writing is not a cultural product. It is not a product of culture, it is a product of me. If there must be a day when I can no longer claim control over by creative babies, let it be after my death so I do not have to endure it.

The backlash has been epic… well it has in my corner of the internet. This article on the Telegraph website covers the highlights: Authors criticise Green Party plan to reduce copyright to 14 years

But moving slightly away from the Green Party policy, to a more general view on copyright, why is it that “copyright” is so often considered synonymous with inaccessible or controlled?

Copyright law does not, in itself, state that material cannot be “copied”; it defines who has that say and protects their decision. Copyright holders are free to grant rights to third parties and do so all the time. How do you think publishing contracts work? They can even distribute their IP under a general licence, like creative commons, so that it CAN be copied and re-distributed for free, but it is their choice.

So the copyright holder might ask the consumer to – God forbid – pay for the creative content they spent hours, weeks, months, sometimes even years creating.

In the wake of today’s uproar, I read at least one blogger’s opinion in favour of the 14 year cut off who countered with the argument that people in other industries didn’t get paid for work they did 14 years ago… and to that I say well, no, they get paid when they actually do the work. Many struggling artists do not.

Copyright kicks in when content is created, not when it is published or sold. Some artists strive for years to get work recognised. A ticking clock would not be helpful; my own mortality provides enough of that already.

This sums up some of the astounding misunderstanding around copyright pretty well: 5 Seriously Dumb Myths About Copyright the Media Should Stop Repeating

So can we all, please, stop demonising copyright.

If reform is needed, it is needed in the way we go about licensing IP; make ownership and licensing more transparent, so that people can engage with, and request licenses from, content owners.

First Potatoes from the Allotment

Image courtesy of Simon Howden

Mr Aberforth pulled the potato from the ground and brushed off the dirt. He threw it into the bucket with the others, but, as it flew through the air, something about it caught his eye.

A strange surge of excitement set his stomach fluttering. He wiped his palms on his jeans and carefully recovered the spud. He turned it over, gingerly.

The way it tapered to a point, like a chin. Eyes which suggested, well, eyes. And, that darker blemish, there, like a mouth. But, most distinctive, the way that top bit stuck up, with a suggestion of a curl.

The face of Elvis Presley stared out at Mr Aberforth from the potato.

He cradled it to him and glanced furtively around the allotment to see if anyone had noticed. Everyone was busy with their own veg. He quickly bundled his tools into his tiny shed and wrapped the celebrity vegetable in a plastic bag.

There wasn’t a moment to lose. He had to show the world!

Mr Aberforth’s Elvis potato makes a guest appearance in the novel I am currently working on, called “Mime”. I felt the moment of discovery deserved it’s own story.

Have you ever found a vegetable that looked like something else?

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015 official posterIt’s two thirds of the way through April and Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m slightly behind on my targets. Although I’m not technically behind on average, I have less time to write over the next week and a half, so hitting my 60,000 word goal is going to be a stretch. Nevertheless I shall give it my best shot.

The re-write of my novel Mime is progressing well. I have a clear list of the missing material that I’ve made good progress checking off. I did however want to be further ahead with re-writing scenes which need major changes by this stage.

My additional challenges of 30 pieces of micro-fiction and 3 short stories have received less attention. I’ve had less time to write than I’d hoped this month and my priority has always been the novel edits.

I’ve got a much better idea of my concentration levels and the amount I can get done in any one sitting. Going forward I think a more modest 30,000 target for each month will be very achievable and give me something to aim for outside of NaNoWriMo.

Are you taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo? How are you doing? Do you think you’ll reach your goal? What have you learned during the process?

The food was at the back of a small, white box. Mushkin put her foot on the smooth surface and tested it. Nothing bad happened. She sniffed and felt with her whiskers. Strange smells mixed with the tempting aroma of wheat but none that she recognised as dangerous.

She stretched her little body forward and stuck her head and paws into the box. Then she crawled in completely.

The floor rocked and something clicked. She turned around quickly but the way she had come was now blocked. For a moment, she panicked and threw her tiny form against her close prison but succeeded only in moving it across the floor and not herself out of it.

Then she calmed down and ate the morsel of cracker she’d been after in the first place. She understood that she was trapped and that was bad but no part of her could think her way out. When it started to get light, she slept.

Field Mouse

© Copyright Zorba the Geek and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

We caught a mouse in our kitchen last night. We’ve named it Mushkin. I don’t know if it is male or female but we’ll call her she for the time being. She’s actually not a house mouse but a field mouse like the one above.

We think she found her way in through the walls and came in to escape the bad weather we had last week. There might be more of them so we will leave some food out tonight and see if it goes. If there are more I’d rather catch them all and release them all together.

Muskin is currently in a plastic box with some bedding, water and food. She seems pretty chilled out about it all.

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