Part of long Story has to begin has to be define by the author

This is how I earn my living: in the words of the bureaucrats and the law, I ''create content''. In the form of novels and short stories, this content is the product of hours of crafting, writing and revising. There is often much research involved as well - my latest novel, A Most Immoral Woman, required extensive reading in the Russo-Japanese War period and visits to archives in cities in Japan and China before I could even start writing - none of this an insubstantial cost in terms of either money or time. Then there is the editing stage leading to final proofreading. It's an arduous process, in the course of which each word is carefully considered. After the book comes out, an author is contractually obligated to spend (unpaid) time doing publicity for it.

To write about China in my non-fiction, I must continuously update my knowledge of the country through countless hours of reading in both English and Chinese and largely self-funded travel.

The thought that the books, articles and lectures I write on the subject of China may make a contribution to Australia's ''Asia literacy'' makes me happy.

But a writer can't live on warm and fuzzy feelings alone. With few exceptions, even the most highly acclaimed works, even ones that enter the curriculum of Australian schools, are unlikely to provide the author with a comfortable living. Not everyone is lucky enough to be published overseas, and even if it feels great to know you are published in Hungary and Italy, those royalties may amount to just a few hundred dollars annually.

This is the reality: our ability to make any kind of living depends on a social contract, supported by law, that says this is our intellectual property. Legal systems and conventions around copyright have evolved out of respect for what it is to create content, its contribution to the social good and out of a sense of fairness that the fact that technology makes it easy to reproduce content does not mean that content is therefore free for the taking.

This, in effect, is what the arguments for reducing a copyright creator's ability to benefit from his or her intellectual property amount to: ''We have shiny new technologies that make copying easy, so let's do it.''

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