alcs in Adema 2019

‘The Business Of Being An Author: A Survey Of Authors’ Earnings And
Contracts’, carried out by Johanna Gibson, Phillip Johnson and Gaetano Dimita
and published in April 2015 by Queen Mary University of
London.[2](ch3.xhtml#footnote-151) The ALCS press release that accompanies the
study states that this ‘shocking’ new research into authors’ earnings finds a
‘dramatic fall, both in incomes, and the number of those working full-time as
writers’.[3](ch3.xhtml#footnote-150) Indeed, two

000. Furthermore, the research found that in 2005 40% of professional
authors earned their incomes solely from writing, where in 2013 this figure
had dropped to just 11.5%.[4](ch3.xhtml#footnote-149)

It seems that one of the primary reasons for the ALCS to conduct this survey
was to collect ‘accurate, independent data’ on writers’ earnings and
contractual issues, in order for the ALCS to ‘make the case for authors’
rights’ — at least, that is what the ALCS Chief Executive Owen Atkinson writes
in the introduction accompanying the survey, which was sent out to all ALCS
members.[5](ch3.xhtml#footnote-148) Yet although this research was conducted
independently and the researchers did not draw conclusions based on the data
collected — in the form of policy recommendations for example — the ALCS did
frame the data and findings in a very specific way, as I will outline in what
follows; this framing includes both the introduction to the survey and the
press release that accompanies the survey’s findings. Yet to some extent this
framing, as I

thodology used to
produce the data underlying the research report.

First of all, let me provide an example of how the research findings have been
framed in a specific way. Chief Executive Atkinson mentions in his
introduction to the survey that the ALCS ‘exists to ensure that writers are
treated fairly and remunerated appropriately’. He continues that the ALCS
commissioned the survey to collect ‘accurate, independent data,’ in order to
‘make the case for writers’ rights’.[6](ch3.xhtml#footnote-147) Now this focus
on rights in combination with remuneration is all the more noteworthy if we
look at an earlier ALCS funded report from 2007, ‘Authors’ Earnings from
Copyright and Non-Copyright Sources: a Survey of 25,000 British and German
Writers’. This report is based on the findings of a 2006 writers’ survey,
which the 2013 survey updates. The 2007 repo

5) Atkinson does not outline what this
copyright regime should be, nor does he draw attention to how this model could
be improved. More importantly, the fact that a copyright model is needed to
ensure fair pay stands uncontested for Atkinson and the ALCS — not surprising
perhaps, as protecting and promoting the rights of authors is the primary
mission of this member society. If there is any culprit to be held responsible
for the study’s ‘shocking’ findings, it is the elusive and further undefined
notion of ‘the digital’. According to Atkinson, digital technology is
increasingly challenging the mission of the ALCS to ensure fair remuneration
for writers, since it is ‘driving new markets and leading the copyright
debate’.[9](ch3.xhtml#footnote-144) The 2013 study is therefore, as Atkinson
states ‘the first to capture the impact of the digital revolution o

his statement is all the more
striking if we take into consideration that none of the questions in the 2013
survey focus specifically on digital publishing.[11](ch3.xhtml#footnote-142)
It therefore seems that — despite earlier findings — the ALCS has already
decided in advance what ‘the digital’ is and that a copyright regime is the
only way to ensure fair remuneration for writers in a digital context.

## Creative Industries

This strong uncontested link between copyright and remuneratio

omplex and manifold —
becomes subordinated to the model of the market; it becomes economic

This direct association of cultural value and creativity with economic value
is apparent in various other facets of the ALCS commissioned research and
report. Obviously, the title of the initial summary booklet, as a form of
wordplay, asks ‘What are words worth?’. It becomes clear from the context of
the survey that the ‘worth’ of words will only be measured in a m

their creativity takes in the
shape of quantifiable outputs or commodities. The value of both these units of
measurement (the creator and the creative objects) are then set off against
the growth of the creative industries in the press release.

The ALCS commissioned survey provides some important insights into how
authorship, cultural works and remuneration — and ultimately, creativity — is
currently valued, specifically in the context of the creative industries
discourse in the UK. What I h

mes, and support a vision in which authorship and creativity
are dependent on economic incentives and ownership of works. By working within
this framework and with these predetermined concepts of authorship and
creativity (and ‘the digital’) the ALCS is strongly committed to the upkeep of
a specific model and discourse of creativity connected to the creative
industries. The ALCS does not attempt to complicate this model, nor does it
search for alternatives even when, as the 2007 report already implies, the
existing IP model has empirically failed to support the remuneration of
writers appropriately.

I want to use this ALCS survey as a reference point to start problematising
existing constructions of creativity, authorship, ownership, and
sustainability in relation to the ethics of publishing. To explore what ‘words
are worth’ and to challenge the hegemonic liberal humanist model of creativity
— to which the ALCS adheres — I will examine a selection of theoretical and
practical publishing and writing alternatives, from relational and posthuman
authorship to radical open access and uncreative writing. These alternatives
do not deny the importance of fair r

what more ethical, fair and emergent forms of
creativity might entail. Forms that take into consideration the various
distributed and entangled agencies involved in the creation of cultural
content — which are presently not being included in the ALCS survey on fair
remuneration, for example. As I will argue, a reconsideration of the liberal
and humanist model of creativity might actually create new possibilities to
consider the value of words, and with that perhaps new solutions to the
problems pointed out in the ALCS study.

## Relational and Distributed Authorship

One of the main critiques of the liberal humanist model of authorship concerns
how it privileges the author as the sole source and origin of creativity. Yet
the argument has been made, both from a his

.xhtml#footnote-133) From this perspective, the problem with
the copyright model as it currently functions is that the creators of
copyright don’t necessarily end up benefiting from it — a point that was also
implied by the authors of the 2007 ALCS commissioned report. Copyright
benefits rights holders, and rights holders are not necessarily, and often not
at all, involved in the production of creative work.

Yet copyright and the work as object are knit tightly to the authorship
construct. In

0](ch3.xhtml#footnote-103) The other
side of the Foucauldian double bind, i.e. the fixed cultural object that
functions as a commodity, has however been similarly critiqued from several
angles. As stated before, and as also apparent from the way the ALCS report
has been framed, currently our copyright and remuneration regime is based on
ownership of cultural objects. Yet as many have already made clear, this
regime and discourse is very much based on physical objects and on a print-
based context.[51

ly fixed, and where the work itself is seen as being the product
of a variety of (posthuman) agencies. Interestingly, someone who has written
very elaborately about a different form of creativity relevant to this context
is one of the authors of the ALCS commissioned report, Johanna Gibson. Similar
to Craig, who focuses on the relationality of copyright, Gibson wants to pay
more attention to the networking of creativity, moving it beyond a focus on
traditional models of producers and consumers in exc

uch a way that our focus moves away from a dominant
market vision, and — as Gibson and Craig have also tried to do — to emphasise
a non-calculative ethics of relations, processes and care instead.

I would like to return at this point to the ALCS report and the way its
results have been framed within a creative industries discourse.
Notwithstanding the fact that fair remuneration and incentives for literary
production and creativity in general are of the utmost importance, what I have
tried to argue here is that the ‘solution’ proposed by the ALCS does not do
justice to the complexities of creativity. When discussing remuneration of
authors, the ALCS seems to prefer a simple solution in which copyright is seen
as a given, the digital is pointed out as a generalised scapegoat, and
binaries between print and digital are maintained and strengthened.
Furthermore, fair remuneration is encapsulated by the ALCS within an economic
calculative logic and rhetoric, sustained by and connected to a creative
industries discourse, which continuously recreates the idea that creativity
and innovation are one. Instead I have tried to put forward various
alternative vi

New Formations: A Journal of Culture/Theory/Politics 83.1, 99–116.

Kretschmer, M., and P. Hardwick (2007) Authors’ Earnings from Copyright and
Non-Copyright Sources : A Survey of 25,000 British and German Writers (Poole,
UK: CIPPM/ALCS Bournemouth University),

Lessig, Lawrence (2008) Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive i

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting
Society is a [British](
membership organisation for writers, established in 1977 with over 87,000
members, focused on protecting and promoting authors’ rights. ALCS collects
and pays out money due to members for secondary uses of their work (copying,
broadcasting, recording etc.).

[2](ch3.xhtml#footnote-151-backlink) This survey was an update of an earlier
survey conducted in 2006 by the Centre of Intellectual

cts (London: Queen Mary University of London, 2015), p. 9,
[ Report - For Web Publication.pdf

[5](ch3.xhtml#footnote-148-backlink) ALCS, Press Release. What Are Words Worth
Now? Not Enough, 8 July 2014,

[6](ch3.xhtml#footnote-147-backlink) Gibson, Johnson, and Dimita, The Business
of Being an Author, p. 35.

[7](ch3.xhtml#footnote-146-backlink) M. Kretschmer and P. Hardwick, Authors’
Earnings from Copyright and Non-Copyright Sources: A Survey of 25,000 British
and German Writers (Poole: CIPPM/ALCS Bournemouth University, 2007), p. 3,

[8](ch3.xhtml#footnote-145-backlink) ALCS, Press Release, 8 July 2014,

[9](ch3.xhtml#footnote-144-backlink) Gibson, Johnson, and Dimita, The Business
of Bei

rginia Press, 1992); Sarah Robbins, ‘Distributed Authorship: A Feminist
Case-Study Framework for Studying Intellectual Property’, College English 66.2
(2003), 155–71,

[20](ch3.xhtml#footnote-133-backlink) The ALCS survey addresses this problem,
of course, and tries to lobby on behalf of its authors for fair contracts with
publishers and intermediaries. That said, the survey findings show that only
42% of writers always retain their copyright. Gibson, Johnson,


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