Creatieve geesten en het auteursrecht

Lucien Clergue: Grande Parade, Arles (1955)

Creatief zijn om geld te verdienen, veel geld, met de creativiteit van de ander. Dit is de kern van het auteursrecht uit de dertiger jaren van de vorige eeuw. Macht wordt hierdoor verworven, macht over wat er te zien, te lezen en te horen valt. Wat niet rendabel is verdwijnt of maakt zelfs geen kans om enig publiek te bereiken. Dit recht strekt zich uit over de wetenschap, het onderwijs, het amusement.

Kleinzielige geesten, niet gehinderd door enige vorm van creativiteit en vandaar ook nooit te betrappen op een enkele originele gedachte, staan op auteursrecht. Zo baart ons kapitalistisch systeem de geesten die het in stand houden.

Een bericht uit Canada: cultuur, onderwijs, subsidie. En auteursrecht…

Feb 16 – 2011


by Ryan Oakley

Yesterday, while on the Twitter, I came across this interesting little commercial via @codejill.Some Canadian authors are shocked that under Bill C-32 it will be legal to use small portions of their work in classrooms without paying them. They’re taking a principled stand against subsidies.

Or are they?

Let’s cue the doom and gloom piano and take a closer look at the authors in this commercial and the organization behind it.


This group, which receives government money, thinks that no one –especially children– should get anything for free. They feel strongly enough about this issue that they made a commercial on the subject. A commercial backed by “Access Copyright, which collects license fees from libraries and schools on behalf of Canadian creators.

The Writers’ Union of Canada hates subsidies collected without consent.

Or I thought they did. Then I looked at their website and saw this:

“We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.”

Even though they call it an “investment” that’s a pretty big subsidy collected from taxpayers without their consent.

And when you look at the other things that shock them, you’ll find this:

“The upcoming election will be a crucial election for creators. Prior to the election call the Union was shocked with the cuts to arts funding programs, totalling $60 million (including PromArt and TradeRoutes). These programs were the foundation for our future artists.”

It should be pointed out that these arts programs are paid for by the taxpayer.

Now, I’m not interested in debating whether that is right or wrong. I simply wish to point out that this group that wants to give nothing away for free is in favor of receiving taxpayer money. The message here:
Subsidies are the great defenders of culture when we get them but the evil destroyers of culture when we give them.


“There’s no gameplan when you start to write a novel. You start in the dark, you make your way forward and you hope it comes together. But the environment has to be nurturing as well.”

Isn’t he precious?

I wonder if Mr. Ricci is aware that many novels have been written in prison, gulags and other horrible environments. By people who, instead of being nurtured by their government, were persecuted by it. They’ve
even been written by people who – horror of horrors – held down day jobs. But Mr. Ricci needs someone to hold his hand. Needs tobe nurtured. And claims this is something every novel needs.

Bullshit detector goes PING!

Let’s take a look at his money.

He’s won the Governor General’s Award twice. Let’s put aside the fact that the Governor General is the representative of the monarchy and that the monarchy is a useless, parasitic organization of inbreds kept in diamond hats by taxes. Let’s just put that aside. Instead, let us look to the award.

“The Canada Council funds, administers and promotes the GGs. The value of each award is $25,000 and each winner also receives a specially-bound copy of the winning book. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists each receives $1,000 in recognition of their selection as finalists, bringing the total value of the Awards close to $450,000.”

That’s a lot of money given to him by people who never even read his book.

He has also won the Trillium which is given by the government of Ontario. That’s $20,000 and the publisher of the winner receives $2,500 for the marketing and promotion of the titles. The award was founded in 1987. Before that time, no books existed in Canada.

He is a writer in residence at The University of Windsor. Last year, that university received $10,000 in council money for that program.

Why should he give any of his work to a school?


“It’s intellectual property.”

I guess that makes education intellectual property theft. Does Einstein’s estate get paid every time his theories are taught? If you write that famous equation on a board do you have to mail him a royalty check? If you change or improve it, is that unlicesed tampering?

Bullshit detector goes PING!

As for Mr. Cumyn’s money, he has been the writer in residence at the University of Ottawa. Last year, that program received $8000 in Council money.

He’s been shortlisted for the Trillium. Though he failed to win (better luck next time , chum) I doubt we would have heard much complaining from him about the subsidy if he had.

He has also taught creative writing at the Banff Centre. This program received $10,000 and $20,000 last year under Grants for Literary Arts Promotion.


“No one else is being asked to subsidize education in this way. Principals get paid for their work. Teachers and janitors get paid for their work. Computer companies are not being forced to provide machines free of cost.”

Does Ms. Paris mean the janitors who are forced to subsidize her work and the work of other artists through that 60 million in grants her organization is defending? Those janitors? Those faceless minions whose job it is to hoist the government declared, intellectual elite to WELFARE OVERMAN status? Surely, writers would not be expected to do something for free that a lowly janitor would not? Because novel writing is exactly like floor sweeping.

It must be horrible when your inferiors are getting a better deal than you. We can all recall the controversy and massive writer protest at last’s year’s Governor General Award for Janitor of the Year. Shame about all the blood that was spilled.

Her choice of words about the computer companies is interesting. “Forced to provide machines free of cost.” My hunch is that the word “forced” means a lot of these companies do provide machines free of cost. It’d be funny if the Canadian Literati were more fucked up about copyrights and stingier than Microsoft.

Bullshit Detector goes PING!

I found her money a tough to track down. She was Vice Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada (2008-09) and we’ve already seen how they feel about grants and whatnot. She’s also worked for the CBC, which is state tv. Fair to say that if she was nominated for a Governor General’s Award she wouldn’t throw a fit about where the money came from. (Janitors and whatnot. Who cares?)


“When teachers agree not to be paid for their work, then I will consider giving my work away for free too.”

Oh fucking please.

I went to school under Mike Harris. I remember when teachers did work to rule and ONLY did the work they were paid for. They did almost nothing. Point is – TEACHERS ARE NOT PAID FOR A LOT OF THEIR WORK! So, Ms. Swan, it’s already time to consider giving away a good portion of your work for free.

She was the chair of the writers’ union from 2007–2008. A Governor General Award Juror and a finalist for it and the Trillium. Stood to make about $45,000 of taxpayer money if she’d won those. A janitor was heard saying: “When writers stop getting massive cash awards for their work, I’ll consider not accepting the janitor of the year award.”


“Tearing up strong roots that nuture and support writing and publishing in this country.”

The strong roots, eh. Those strong, strong roots. Like the creative writing grant Ms. Campbell received in 2006?

She has been nominated for the City of Toronto Book Award. That is, $15,000 in public prize money. Each finalist receives $1000 and the winner gets what’s left.

Not so many awards for Ms. Campbell. Must be why she’s hardly in this thing.


These people are not against subsidies. At all. They are strongly in favor of receiving them. They call that an “investment.” But when they have to give them, it’s a subsidy at best and theft at worst. So when I’m forced to pay taxes that go to supporting their hobby, I’m investing. When teachers use their work without paying, that’s theft.

They talk about their work being “used” in the classroom but never say “taught.” And that is the word they mean to use.

Bill C-32 probably warrants discussion. But this commercial is not discussion. It is misrepresentation by a highly interested party, The Writers’ Union of Canada, with backing by Access Copyright . None of the parties in it can take a remotely credible position against subsidies.

I am against this advertisement. Yet my taxes have gone to support the organization that created it.

And no one is being forced to subsidize?

Full Disclosure:

I have never received a government grant for writing. I have spent some time on welfare and spent some of that time writing. My publisher has received money (about $22,000 that I know of) through the Canada Council system just as I suspect many of the publishers of the aforementioned writers have.

Difference is, I don’t give a fuck if my book is taught in school. As a great man once said: WU TANG IS FOR THE CHILDREN!

And if the government ever, for some reason, wants to give me money, I will take every cent and probably spend most of it on clothes.

Many of the money figures in this post were gathered by a quick browse and cross reference between the bios in the Writers Union site with the Canada Council records of grants. I suspect that I’ve only scratched the surface. I didn’t even look into provincial grants.



Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Uitgelichte foto: Lucien Clerguebron

Geef een reactie

Deze site gebruikt Akismet om spam te verminderen. Bekijk hoe je reactie-gegevens worden verwerkt.