Category Archives: Writing

Dutch Cable Companies Must Keep on Paying Royalties to Dutch Screenwriters

001screenwriterThe district court of Amsterdam has ruled that Dutch cable companies must pay royalties to Dutch screenwriters. This also applies for online viewing sites such as NPO.

In October 2012, three Dutch cable companies (UPC, Ziggo and Delta) had stopped paying royalties to LIRA, the Dutch writers guilt. The cable companies argued that since they already paid to TV networks and film producers, they already paid for the royalties.

The court rejected this defense, since screenwriters are members of and represented by LIRA that can claim royalties on behalf of her members. Almost all screenwriters are members of LIRA (Stichting Literaire Rechten Auteurs).

The ruling is a major victory for writers. A recent research conducted by the Network of Screenwriters (professional organization of screenwriters) among writers of youth drama shows that half of those writers could not survive without those royalty payments.

Franky Ribbens serves on the Board of Directors of the Network of Screenwriters. He writes highly popular TV shows such as Hollandse Hoop and Penoza.

Ribbens stated: “This ruling marks an important victory for filmmakers. They will finally be able to share in the substantial profits of billions of Euros that companies such as UPC and Ziggo generate with the distribution of their films and TV series. Although the royalty payments will only be a fraction of the total turnover of those companies, for many writers it is an indispensable source of income to survive.”

(Image courtesy of WFI)

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Amazing Poem by 18-year-old Nienke Woltmeijer for National Rememberance Day

Nienke WoltmeijerShe is only 18 years old, but she penned an amazing poem. Every year, the Dutch government organizes a poetry contest. Youngsters between 14 till 19 are invited to write a poem for National Remembrance Day which takes place on May 4.

There were 260 entries in total. The winner of the 2014 competition is Nienke Woltmeijer with her powerful poem about a tree. Chairman of the jury Anne Vegter explained: “The jury was especially impressed with the amazing image that the poem evokes. A tree that has witnessed it all. Nienke also impressed with her presentation.”

Woltmeijer will read her poem in public on the Damrak in Amsterdam on the 4th of May.

Following is Nienke Woltmeijer’s original poem in Dutch with my TipTopTranslator’s English  translation:

poem

Woltmeijer: “The old trees at Westerbork or in the garden of the Anne Frank Museum are tangible reminders of the past. Each time I see those trees, I wonder what they have seen over time that we as the younger generation heard about, but never witnessed. That is what I want to communicate.”

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Filed under Grammar, Language, Poetry, TipTopTranslator, TipTopWriter, Translations, Writing

Decoding The Voynich Mystery – Are We Getting Close?

voynich-manuscript-finding-proper-nounsIn September 2012 and April 2013, I wrote about the Voynich mystery.

The Voynich Manuscript was created during the 15th century and is still an intriguing unsolved mystery. It is written in an unknown language that not even military cryptographers were able to decipher. It also contains beautiful illustrations and descriptions of events and flora unknown to man.

It seems that finally at least a small part of the code has been cracked. Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire, claims to have deciphered part of the manuscript using linguistic analysis.

Professor Bax is an expert in mediaeval manuscripts and familiar with Semitic languages such as Arabic. This helped him to analyze text letter by letter. Up till now, he was able to decipher 14 letters and 10 words.

He identified one of those words as the term for Taurus, alongside a picture of seven stars which seem to be the Pleiades. He also found the word KANTAIRON alongside a picture of the plant Centaury as well as a number of other plants.

Professor Bax explained: “The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at mediaeval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.”

To learn more, watch the following video.

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The Controversial Use of the Coffin of Famous Dutch Author Harry Mulisch in a Notary Ad

mulischNationale Notaris (National Notary) is an organization of 60 notaries throughout the Netherlands.

The organization wanted an ad campaign for promoting last wills and testaments. It hired ad agency DKTD that came up with the slogan: “Ready to go? Try out the free last will scan of nationalenotaris.nl

The ad needed a strong visual. DKTD approached photographer Merlin Daleman and asked him for permission to use a photo of a funeral featuring six pallbearers with top hats carrying a coffin at the Zorgvliet cemetery. It was the funeral of Harry Mulish, a famous Dutch author whose works include The Assault. The film version of that novel won a Golden Globe and Academy Award.

Daleman said that he told the ad agency “you know that’s Harry Mulisch, correct?” He assumed that it was a national campaign sponsored by the Dutch government to advise people to take care of their affairs during their lifetime. Once he saw the photo featured in the ad, he wondered. “I didn’t expect that, but since they bought the photo from me, they are entitled to use it once as they please.”

The CEO, Albert van der Wijk, loved the ad and ordered 5,000 posters were printed. There are 1,500 posters distributed in 12 cities. The ad also features prominently on the homepage of the nationalenotaris.nl website.

Family members of the late author were shocked when they saw the poster in Amsterdam. They were not informed by the ad agency.

Danny Tournier, owner of DKTD, claims that he himself was not aware that the photo was of the famous Dutch author’s funeral. “It is quite likely mentioned somewhere in the paperwork, but it did not surface at the crucial moment.”

Mr, Van der Wijk also stated that he was not aware that the photo was taken at the funeral of the author who passed away in 2010. “I just thought that it was a beautiful image. I was surprised that the family had not been informed.”

Nationale Notaris contacted the family and wants to see how the organization can adapt the ad campaign if family members so desire. Removing and destroying all the posters would be a major financial setback for the organization.

DKDT also reached out to the family and contacted Frieda Mulisch, the author’s daughter.  According to Tournier: “Frieda and I understand each other. She understands that we chose this photo, but that there was somewhere along the line miscommunication.”

It will be interesting to see what the Mulisch family will decide…

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Will Book Clubs Be A New Marketing Venue For Authors?

book_open_pagesBook clubs could become a great way for authors to promote their books. Jean Hanff Korelitz, a novelist herself, started “Book the Writer”. A book club can book a writer for an appearance for the sum of $750. From this amount, the author gets $400 while “Book the Writer” keeps $350.

Authors such as Kurt Andersen, A. M. Homes, Zoë Heller, Michael Cunningham and Amy Sohn are happy to be booked. They appear in person at those book club meetings to discuss their works with their fans. The attending club members can ask the writer in person about writing processes, characters, plot lines, etc.

It’s a new way of marketing for writers. They directly interact with their target audience. It’s a great way to build word-of-mouth for their books, especially since opportunities for book signings in bookstores and book tours are declining.

“Book the Writer” is currently mainly active in New York, the center of the publishing industry. According to the founder, she based the concept on the author hosting she did when she lived in Princeton, N.J. She provides the service to book clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Publishers also use book clubs to reach their customers. Little, Brown and Company let its authors attend book club meetings via Skype at no charge. The publisher also sends complimentary copies of upcoming novels to about 75 book clubs throughout the country.

It will be interesting to see if “Book the Writer” will be successful and spread to other cities.

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Does A 400-year-old Manuscript Prove That Australia Was Discovered By The Portuguese?

Manuscript KangarooThe Les Enluminures Gallery in New York recently purchased a 16th century manuscript from a rare book dealer in Portugal. The manuscript, dated between 1580 and 1620, features both text and music for a liturgical procession. The manuscript changed hand for the sum of $15,000.

When Laura Light, a researcher at the gallery, closely examined the content, she made an interesting discovery. She came across the image that looks closely resembles a kangaroo. She also found an image of two half-naked men wearing crowns of leaves.

Both images could prove that the Portuguese landed in Australia before the first recorded European landing by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. If true, the find would rewrite Australia’s history.

Australia’s The Age newspaper wrote that  “a kangaroo or wallaby in a manuscript this early is proof that the artist of this manuscript had either been in Australia, or even more interestingly, that travelers’ reports and drawings of the interesting animals found in this new world were already available in Portugal.”

Not everybody is convinced. Dr. Martin Woods of the National Library of Australia stated: “it could be another animal in south-east Asia, like any number of deer species, some of which stand up on their hind legs to feed of high branches“.

Other researchers argue that the manuscript may have been created a few years after Janszoon’s arrival in Australia, or could be the result of a 1526 Portuguese voyage to Papua.

Time (and a lot of research hours) will tell…

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Shia LaBeouf’s Weird Plagiarism Case

Howard CantourOn December 17, 2014 Shia LaBeouf released his short film Howard Cantour.com. It did not take long for sharp eyes to detect the uncanny resemblance to a comic strip by famous creatorDaniel Clowes.

LaBeouf took to Twitter to apologize for the mishap. Funny enough, even his mea culpa tweet seems to be plagiarized!

LaBeouf obviously does not know how to apologize. His tweet “[getting] lost in the creative process” doesn’t justify ripping off Daniel Clowes, especially considering the amount of time and work Clowes put into it.LeBeouf also answered numerous questions about the origins of the short movie without pointing out that he adapted it from the comic strip,Funny enough, even his apology about his plagiarism seems to be plagiarized! Andrew Hake noticed on Twitter that LaBeouf has already been caught once before in plagiarizing an apology. It seems that LaBeouf prefers trolling the Internet to find “his” apology instead of writing it himself.

According to Andrew S. Allen “We were led to believe by Shia and the filmmaking team that the story and script for HowardCantour.com was completely original,. There is a global outcry about the uncredited use of Daniel Clowes’ work. That didn’t come until it hit online. If it wasn’t for the legions of online Clowes fans, this may never have come to light.

As curators of a powerful but under-appreciated medium like short film where filmmakers spend years of work to make little or no money, the recognition you get from your work, and therefore attribution, is often all you have, so we take it seriously. Until Clowes grants permission and is credited in the work, we’ve pulled the film offline.”

Meanwhile on Twitter, users came together with the tongue-in-cheek hashtag #shialaboeuffilms to offer some suggestions for future projects LaBoeuf could create that would also be “inspired by someone else’s idea”:

Shia LaBeouf tried to close the unpleasant incident by stating that his behavior, tweets, plagiarism and public apologies were all part of his “performance art” for a project called #stopcreating. Guess what? He got the idea from Joaquin Phoenix.

Curious minds want to know – was that LaBoeuf’s final act of plagiarism?

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