Spending review: projects such as transforming Tate Modern could be under threat
The arts, says Rupert Christiansen, are as essential to our national dignity as the Queen or the Lake District – and that is why they must be properly funded.
In a desperate bid to soften the hard hearts of number-crunching Treasury wonks in the run-up to the summer’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the Arts Council has commissioned and published a report which aims to show the “economic value of public investment in arts and culture”.
The figures look superficially impressive on paper. The arts contribute 0.4 per cent to GDP, in return for 0.1 per cent contribution from the taxpayer, and some index has been found which concludes that this represents a better return than that offered by the health, wholesale and retail sectors. Nearly £1 billion of the £12.8 billion annual arts turnover comes from tourists. Subsidised culture feeds the creative industries such as fashion, design and telly drama series which are major exports. And so forth.
What one has to bear in mind is that there are many other such depositions from other areas of society currently being placed in the hands of Osborne’s mandarins, and sceptical eyebrows may well be raised. Yes, the arts and culture are a jolly good thing, they will say, and we wish them well. But those figures can be turned around so that it emerges – for instance – that every opera ticket sold by one of the major companies is subsidised by at least £50. There are luxuries and there are necessities, and the arts fall into the former category: money saved by cutting the “luxuries” of opera and ballet can be transferred to the essentials of health and education, and private philanthropy and the commercial market (that is ticket sales) can take up the slack, it will be argued.
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By Janet Novack
Amazon.com has reportedly struck a deal with key California legislators and bricks and mortar retailers to begin collecting sales tax from California purchasers in September 2012, unless Congress passes a national law governing Internet sales tax collection by next July.
The tentative deal would buy Amazon one more year to solidify its position as the Internet’s dominant retailer and head off an expensive voter referendum to repeal a new California law that requires on-line sellers to collect California sales tax as of July 1, 2011, if they have marketing affiliates or related subsidiaries in California. While Amazon has ditched its California marketing affiliates, it still has three units operating in the state, including the lab that developed the Kindel.
The pact was reached after Democrats fell short in their efforts to pass a bill that would have headed off the referendum. Amazon has already invested $5.25 million in the referendum and a July opinion poll showed it had a good chance of passing.
By Andrew Albanese
Librarians and book re-sellers say their core activities are now in question after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on August 15 upheld a lower court decision finding that the “First Sale” doctrine in U.S. copyright law—the provision that enables libraries to lend and consumers to re-sell books they’ve lawfully purchased—does not apply to works manufactured outside the U.S. While the verdict stands as a major victory for the publishing industry, which has long fought the “illegal importation of foreign works,” especially textbooks, critics say the broad decision goes too far, and could harm libraries and encourage the outsourcing of jobs.
The ruling comes in the case of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Supap Kirtsaeng, in which Kirtsaeng, a Thai-born U.S. student was accused of importing and re-selling foreign editions of textbooks, made for exclusive sale abroad, in the U.S. market via online service eBay. In its verdict, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit affirmed by a 2-1 margin that Kirtsaeng “could not avail himself of the first sale doctrine,” because language in the statute says that products must be “lawfully made.” The court ruled that those two words—“lawfully made”—limits First Sale “specifically and exclusively to works that are made in territories in which the Copyright Act is law, and not to foreign-manufactured works.”
The verdict is the second decision in a year to limit the First Sale doctrine.
— Law enforcement agencies would have to obtain a warrant or court order in most cases to obtain customers’ reading records from bookstores and online booksellers under a bill approved by the state Senate.
Sen. Leland Yee patterned SB602 after similar privacy protections currently in place for library records.
By| Charlotte Williams
Publishers Association chief executive Richard Mollet welcomed the publication of the draft Defamation Bill yesterday [15th March], saying the misapplication of libel suits was having a “chilling effect on what is being published”.
Included in the draft bill is the introduction of a single publication rule to prevent an action being brought in relation to publication of the same material by the same publisher after a one year limitation period has passed. It also introduces a new statutory defence of responsible publication on matters of public interest, and a statutory defence of truth and of honest opinion, replacing common law defences of justification and fair/honest comment.
The bill also includes the proposal that a statement must have caused substantial harm in order for it to be defamatory. …read more
By Lisa Campbell
Changing copyright laws in the UK could strike a blow to investment in literature, a report has found.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has produced the document for the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), which reveals that out of £4.3billion invested in new content in the UK, £1.6 billion was pumped into arts and literature alone. The statistics cover the year 2007.
The research also found that around 770,000 “original content creators”—from authors and artists to software developers—would be affected by any changes made to the UK copyright system. …read more
By Andrew Albanese
Can foreign works that have passed into the public domain in the U.S. be withdrawn by Congress and put back under copyright protection? That question will be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which this week granted a writ of certiorari in a case, Golan v. Holder, that questions the constitutionality of a federal statute that restored copyright protection to thousands of foreign works, including symphonies by Shostakovich and Stravinsky, books by Virginia Woolf, artwork by Picasso, and films by Fellini and Hitchcock.
The case has had a winding legal road so far. The challenge stems from a 1994 amendment to the Copyright Act, known as the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), which removed some foreign works from the public domain in the U.S. in order to implement intellectual property treaties. …read more
New Labour’s controversial vetting scheme of those working with children, including authors, has been halted.
The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) affected nine million people working with children and vulnerable adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under the scheme professional and voluntary staff working regularly with children in sectors including education had to be registered on the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) database. …read more
Barbara Casassus talks to the man from the ministry about a fixed-price for e-books in France
The French Culture Ministry hopes that a law allowing publishers to fix prices of electronic versions of print books will be on the statute books in France before next year’s Paris Book Fair
on March 18th-21st.
“This is an extremely ambitious target, but not totally impossible,” Nicolas Georges, the ministry’s director of books and reading, told The Bookseller….read more