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In an on-camera interview with the IPA (video at the foot of this page), award-winning international authors Philip Pullman, Elif Shafak and Alaa Al Aswany have voiced their opinions on the importance to creators of robust copyright protection, and the impact that digital has had on their profession. 

The novelists made their comments during the International Publishers Congress, in London (April 9-13, 2016), where they were taking part as speakers and panellists. 

Philip Pullman, CBE, who shot to literary stardom with the His Dark Materials trilogy, said the introduction of copyright through the 1709 Statute of Anne had made it "possible for authorship to be a viable profession".

However, he added: "It's been eroded, it's been chipped away at, it's been diluted in the past 10, 20, 25 years to the point where we now hear that 'information wants to be free' - that stupid slogan - and people think that someone's copyright is theft, rather than something that enables them to earn an honest living."

Echoing this view, Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany, said: "The writer is not a hero, the writer is a human being, and he has many bills to pay."

Without the protection of copyright, he added, some writers will give up, some will become dependent on patronage, and the world will lose talents. "Copyright is much more than just a technical issue; it's absolutely a cultural and human issue," he said. 

Elif Shafak, a Turkish writer who now lives in London after narrowly escaping prosecution her over her work, deemed 'defamatory' to Turkey's thin-skinned President Erdogan, said the digital revolution was "exciting", with "new generations who are also addicted to books". 

She said: "Our need for books will be with us for a very, very long time (...) The art of storytelling, the content of the books, they're here to stay with us and they're much more long-lasting than our technological changes."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This video was made with the generous support of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), whose camera crew was on the ground filming for the ground-breaking WIPO Conference: The Global Digital Content Market, which took place on 20-22 April

 

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