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New Research Confirms UK Writers Still Struggle to Survive

LONDON, March 8 /PRNewswire/ --

- Counting the Cost of a Writing Career in the 21st Century: 25,000 Authors Surveyed

As the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) hosts "Fair Trade or Foul Play?", a high-profile debate about the issues & value of copyright, new research commissioned by the Society reveals that authors still struggle to survive.

ALCS commissioned the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM), Bournemouth University to conduct research into authors' earnings in the UK compared with those of German authors. The results are based on a survey of 25,000 authors in the two countries.

The ALCS survey is the first research of its kind since that carried out on behalf of the Society of Authors in 2000. The latest research reveals that the typical UK author earns 33% less than the national average wage. If this trend in earnings continues will creators be able to continue contributing 8% of GDP in the UK? If we value our creative industries so highly, can the nation afford to let this decline in authors' earnings continue?

"Fees due to writers for the re-use of their work related to their copyright are indisputably a vital source of income," says Owen Atkinson, CEO of ALCS. "The real question for all of us is how to safeguard our creative heritage and ensure that our writers can not only survive, but thrive."

Among the key findings of the research:

Writing: A Risky Profession: Only The Top 10% Reap Real Rewards

- UK's writers operate in a 'winner takes all' market - the earnings of a typical writer are deteriorating in real terms.

- The top 10% of authors earn more than 50% of total income. In other equally skilled professions the bottom 50% of workers earn nearly 40% of total income.

- A typical professional authors' income is 33% less than the national average wage

Don't Give Up The Day Job: Writers Juggle Jobs To Survive

- Only 20% of writers earn all their income from writing.

- 60% of professional writers need another job to survive.

A Tough Start

- The first ten years are the toughest of a writers' life. The typical earnings of a British writer aged between 25 & 34 are only GBP5000 - a third less than their counterparts in Germany. This age bracket takes in those repaying student loans, starting out on their careers, getting on the property ladder and starting a family. Where's the incentive to keep writing at this level of return?

Mind The Gender Gap

- Amongst professional writers, the research indicates a near 60/40 earnings bias in favour of men. Why is writing still affected by gender?

On The Web - Out Of Pocket

- The world is now on-line; broadband connects half of UK households and yet less than 15% of authors surveyed have received any payment for on-line use of their work.

The Moral Divide

- The statutory regime designed to promote and protect an author's name and reputation - moral rights - serves German authors far better than their UK counterparts. The German rights are inalienable; the UK rights are subject to numerous exceptions and limitations and may be waived.

Editors Notes

1. ALCS - Contact information

ALCS, Marlborough Court, 14 - 18 Holborn, London EC1N 2LE.

Tel: +44-207-395-0600; email Website:

2. Research

This research was commissioned by ALCS and led by Prof. Martin Kretschmer & Prof. Philip Harwick, The Centre of Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University.

3. ALCS - Sources of Income

ALCS has developed highly specialised knowledge and sophisticated systems that track writers and their work (both print and audiovisual) against various secondary uses for which they are due payment. The main sources of fees due are secondary royalties from: photocopying (through the Copyright Licensing Agency which is jointly owned by the ALCS and the Publishers Licensing Society; international Public Lending Right; cable retransmission; fees from the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) and sources such as blank tape and machine levies for private copying overseas and small miscellaneous literary rights).

4. ALCS - The International Picture

The Society is recognised internationally as a leading authority on copyright matters and authors' interests. It maintains a close watching brief on all matters affecting copyright both in the UK and around the world and makes regular representations to the UK government and to the European Commission.

ALCS pays royalties to member writers based in 137 countries around the globe and has reciprocal arrangements with over 50 collecting societies around the world.

5. ALCS Board of Directors

The Board consists of twelve non-executive directors. ALCS corporate members, the Society of Authors and The Writers' Guild of Great Britain, nominate four directors each and there are four 'independents' elected by the membership.

SOURCE The Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS)

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