Historic Maltese writers’ congress passes economic rights motion

National Book Council establishes the first National Writers’ Congress to forge ahead with Bill for writers’ economic rights

The Bill for writers' economic rights was approved unanimously by the first ever congress of writers
The Bill for writers' economic rights was approved unanimously by the first ever congress of writers

Malta’s first National Writers’ Congress took place Saturday under the auspices of the National Book Council, in a historic meeting in which a draft bill for writers’ economic rights was voted upon by over 60 authors.

The Congress presented two motions, one for a draft Writers’ Bill of Economic Rights, and the consolidation of the legal status of the National Book Council through an act of Parliament, which will have to be approved in Cabinet before being presented to the House of Representatives.

The first motion was drafted following extensive consultation meetings which the NBC held with writers during the past months.

The Draft Writers’ Bill of Economic Rights stresses the right for authors to receive due payment for their work, and serves as guide to government in its transposition of EU Directive 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market.

The motion was approved unanimously, which included the approvals submitted in writing by 75 authors who could not attend.

The second motion calls for the subsidiary law establishing the National Book Council to be renewed in an Act of Parliament, and consolidate the legal status and autonomy of the NBC. The motion was also approved unanimously.

“Five writers commented on the motions and emphasised the importance of events such as the Congress bringing together writers under one roof. Writers remarked on the exclusion of poetry from minimum royalty payments in the Writers’ Bill of Economic Rights,” the National Book Council said in a statement. This led to an amendment in the Bill to include poetry.

NBC executive chairperson Mark Camilleri declared that poetry books would be included upon the introduction of fiscal incentives for the industry.

“The strengthening of writers’ economic standing and the growth of the publishing industry contributes to the renewal of local literature and the cultural, educational, and intellectual growth of society. This is what makes the economic growth of the industry an issue of national importance,” Camilleri told the Congress.