Burgess and De Rosa (2017)
|Burgess and De Rosa (2017)|
|Title:||The Remuneration of Canadian Writers for Literary Works: A Benchmarking Study|
|Author(s):||Marilyn Burgess, Maria De Rosa|
|Citation:||Burgess, M. and De Rosa, M. (2017) The Remuneration of Canadian Writers for Literary Works: A Benchmarking Study. A Report prepared for The Writers’ Union of Canada. Avaialble: https://www.writersunion.ca/sites/all/files/attachments/Study%20on%20Remuneration%20of%20Writers%20September%202017_0.pdf (last accessed: 3 June 2019)|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The data consists of two lines of evidence: (1) a review of relevant literature, and (2) 15 interviews with Canadian, British, Irish, French and Australian representatives of writers’ associations and trade unions.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:|
“Writers’ organizations in Canada and elsewhere strive to ensure that writers are fairly remunerated for their work. International trends show that the incomes of literary writers have fallen significantly in recent years with digital technologies impacting significantly on the dissemination and monetization of literary works. In addition, writers increasingly participate in live engagements often without remuneration.Copyright laws have not responded helpfully to the challenges of digital disruption, and have not adapted in the direction of protecting creators and maintaining a strong rights position for them. As well, powerful and well-resourced interests in the technology sector have also applied pressure on these creative rights, working hard to expand definitions of existing copyright exceptions while suggesting more and more exceptions be created by legislators. Within this context, Communications MDR was engaged by The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) and the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ) to undertake a benchmarking study on minimum rates of remuneration and to propose minimum rates for literary works in Canada.”
Main Results of the Study
The study finds declines in authors’ earnings across all jurisdictions surveyed (Canada, UK, Ireland, France and Australia) which the researchers attribute to shifts caused by the digital economy causing increases in piracy rates, and a consolidation of the traditional publishing industry.
Overall, the eBook rate paid by publishers is particularly low, with authors earning approximately 50% of the sub-licensing fees paid to publishers. Other mediums vary in their rates across jurisdictions, particularly for magazine writing, with the US paying the highest fees (USD 4). In Canada, rates for literary works are lower than rates in related sectors, particularly in film, television and radio, where rates are considerably higher.
There is an upwards trend of using “all rights” contracts, where all rights to print and digital platforms are conferred to the publisher in a single transaction. Some participants to the study were concerned that the value of such “all rights contracts” were in fact commensurate with the price paid for print rights alone.
In all of the jurisdictions surveyed, participants agree there is a need for minimum remuneration rates, though fear this may lead to enforcement issues, or imposition of a “maximum” rate.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study sets out proposed minimum remuneration rates for literary authors in Canada, based on comparitive international benchmarks, including:
• 10% of publisher’s retail price, with an escalating rate for hardcover books, and 8% of publisher’s retail price for paperback books.
• $1 to $4.05 per word for general interest magazines, and $27 to £203 per page for literary magazines.
• $3.12 per line for poems in books, and $50 per poems in magazines.
• 10% of publisher’s print retail price or 35% of publisher’s eBook retail prince for eBooks, and $1 to $3 word or print media rate + 50% for online publications.