Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Dickens` Bicentenary and the House of Commons


Today I attended the launch party for the What the Dickens copyright resource in which I was involved at  consultation and review stage. It was commissioned by the ALCS and was written as part of a joint venture between ALCS and National Schools Partnership, and was in fact the second such resource commissioned by ALCS and linked to copyright- the first being Copywrite which I wrote for NSP in 2010.

Today is of course Dickens' birthday and the resource was a way of marking Dickens' bicentenary but also a way for the ALCS to raise awareness about copyright infringement and the hot topic of Educational Exceptions.

Educational exceptions are proposals to copyright law currently being considered by the government which would mean that copyright protected work could be used without individuals having to seek a licence or permission from the copyright owner.

Educational writers are justifiably up in arms over this proposal which would have huge implications for their income, which, for most of us, is not huge, as it is.

The launch of the resource was held at the Terrace in the House of Commons and my invitation came from Jim Dowd MP, and I actually managed to chat to him.

He's an officer in the All Party Writers' group and obviously a supporter of copyright, hence his link with ALCS.

During the two hour event, he gave a short speech as did John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons and a representative from the Dickens' museum.

John Bercow was comical and engaging- a very good orator who entertained the assembled guests. The lovely setting steeped in history, the wine and meeting a few new people, including Sue Penney and the lobbyist from the Incorporated Society of Musicians made for a pleasant break from everyday life. I also chatted to a fellow reviewer of the resource Ruth Brocklebank and fellow writer Chris Corin.

It was my first visit to the House of Commons and what a lovely occasion to go. It really was a beautiful setting for an important day. As you can see, here I am standing at the Houses of Parliament, next to the Cromwell Green entrance. I thought I'd make my photograph look at least a little Victorian so that it was in keeping with the occasion. Not sure the modern coat looks very Victorian... I guess it  gives me away but hey it was worth a try!