On the 14th of September the National Book Council (NBC) organised the first National Writers’ Congress to take place in Malta. The historic moment brought together Maltese writers to collectively recognise their common economic rights. Over 65 authors participated in the Congress.
The primary aim of the Congress was the presentation of two motions by the NBC on which writers have been invited to vote:
a) Draft Writers’ Bill of Economic Rights
b) The consolidation of the legal status of the National Book Council through an Act of Parliament
The first motion has been 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.
Writers remarked on the exclusion of poetry from minimum royalty payments. The Congress agreed to an amendment removing the exception concerning poetry books. The motion was approved unanimously by a total of 141 writers. 75 authors who were unable to attend submitted their approval in writing.
The second motion states that Subsidiary Legislation 327.580 establishing the National Book Council is renewed in an Act of Parliament consolidating the legal status and autonomy of the NBC. The motion has been approved by unanimously by writers present.
Writers commented on the motions and emphasised the importance of events such as the Congress bringing together writers under one roof. During his address, the Executive Chairperson of the NBC emphasised that 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.
In closing, and in dialogue with the authors present, the NBC discussed the way forward and necessary next steps benefitting them and the industry, including the introduction of fiscal incentives for the industry.