The world needs authors’ rights

FREELANCE editor Mike Holderness called on a UN body to "re-focus on supporting creativity" - the key part of its mission statement - in Geneva on 17 November. He was representing the International Federation of Journalists at the World Intellectual Property Organizations's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related rights.

"Despite the failings of newspapers in some countries recently," he told representatives of over 100 countries, "the work of individual, independent journalists remains the best bulwark against arbitrary power and the gaining of that power through a mixture of falsehood and rumour amplified by the echo-chambers of electronic gossip."

He stressed the need for professional authorship. The promise held out by some that the internet era would usher in a golden era of democracy has proved hollow. A vast exchange of prejudices and lies through anti-social media is not... true or useful 'free expression'."

He appealed to the Committee "not to be swayed by the promise that opening up creative works to use without remuneration offers some kind of golden era of free information. The risk is that free information ends up being worth every penny."