Green Party confusion on copyright message

Green Party confusion on copyright message

Conflicting messages have been issued on the Green Party's copyright policy, after an uproar among authors over its proposal to limit copyright to just 14 years.

Speaking to the Telegraph yesterday, a party spokesperson confirmed the policy intends to limit copyright to 14 years after production, as suggested in a 2007 paper by Dr Rufus Pollock, founder of Open Access not-for-profit Open Knowledge.

A party spokesman told the Telegraph that, rather than the life of the author plus 14 years: "It would be 14 years after publishing, as recommended by Cambridge University researcher Rufus Pollock." 

But former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP has contradicted this, saying on her website yesterday (23rd April): "There's been some concern expressed in recent days about an old Green Party recommendation that the copyright period be reduced to 14 years - as I understand it that's 14 years after the creator dies, not 14 years from the point at which their work is first copyrighted. The proposal isn't in our general election manifesto because it is just a proposal - not something we want to introduce as a priority in the next five years."

An earlier statement to The Bookseller from a Green party spokesman said: "We would consult with copyright holders and the general public to establish an appropriate length, but believe copyright terms should be shorter than they are at present in order to reduce restrictions on our shared cultural heritage. Though our long-term vision includes a proposed copyright length of 14 years, we have no plans to implement this in the near future.”

Authors who have taken issue with the suggestion include Philip Pullman, who said on Twitter: "The Green Party attitude to copyright is daft", and Jojo Moyes, who said "It took me 13 years of solid graft to earn a bloody royalty, Green Party." Jessie Burton said the policy was "political idealism gone too far. Negates the role of the artist, & strangely antagonistic."

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, has said in an opinion piece for The Bookseller that the policy shows "absence of rigour or sense".