atkinson in Adema 2019


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 


this
framing, as I will argue, is already apparent in the methodology 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


empirically failed to ensure that authors receive
appropriate reward or remuneration for the use of their
work.[7](ch3.xhtml#footnote-146) The data from the subsequent 2013 survey show
an even bleaker picture as regards the earnings of writers. Yet Atkinson
argues in the press release accompanying the findings of the 2013 survey that
‘if writers are to continue making their irreplaceable contribution to the UK
economy, they need to be paid fairly for their work. This means ensuring
clear, fair contracts with equitable terms and a copyright regime that support
creators and their ability to earn a living from their
creations’.[8](ch3.xhtml#footnote-145) 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 on writers’
working lives’.[10](ch3.xhtml#footnote-143) This statement is all the more
striking if we take into consideration that none of the questions in the 2013
survey focus


remuneration can be traced
back to various other aspects of the 2015 report and its release. For example,
the press release draws a strong connection between the findings of the report
and the development of the creative industries in the UK. Again, Atkinson
states in the press release:

These are concerning times for writers. This rapid decline in both author
incomes and in the numbers of those writing full-time could have serious
implications for the economic success of the creative industries in the
UK.[12](ch3.xhtml#footnote-141)

This connection to the creative industries — ‘which are now worth £71.4
billion per year to the UK economy’,[13](ch3.xhtml#footnote-140) Atkinson
points out — is not surprising where the discourse around creative industries
maintains a clear bond between intellectual property rights and creative
labour. As Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter state in their MyCreativity Reader,
the creative indus

 

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