During the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference in August 2012, a number of participating writers met in a closed session to discuss aspects of the publishing industry and the influences on literature and writers of recent market changes, not least as to ebooks and the internet. As part of the meeting, the group discussed the German “Wir sind die Urheber!” (We are the Authors!) initiative and statement on intellectual property, and felt that this should be endorsed within their own Statement of Principle and Intent.

As the official site at http://www.wir-sind-die-urheber.de/ carries only the original German text, an unofficial translation is reproduced below:

We are the Authors!

Statement against the theft of Intellectual Property

With concern and disbelief, we as writers and artists are following the public attacks against copyright. Copyright is a historic achievement of civil freedom from feudal dependence. It guarantees the material basis for individual creation.

The conflict of interest that has been proclaimed in this context between authors and ‘users’, paints an inaccurate picture of our work reality. In a society with division of labor, artists give the promulgation of their works into the hands of publishers, galleries and producers, who then represent and defend their best interests.

The new realities of digitalization and the internet are not a reason to justify the theft of intellectual property, or to call for the legalization of theft. On the contrary, it is necessary to strengthen and protect copyright, and to further adapt it to address the fast and wide access to creations of intellectual labor that we are faced with today.

Copyright allows us to make a living from our work as writers and artists. Copyright protects us all, ia from global, mega-scale internet companies, whose business models provides for the disenfranchisement of artists.

The everyday presence of the internet in our lives, and the benefits derived therefrom, cannot justify theft and are no excuse for greed or avarice.