Thursday, July 9, 2009

US Authors support Australian Authors in territorial copyright fight

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has been heartened by the unanimous support of the board of the Authors Guild in the USA for the maintenance of the current restrictions on the parallel importation of books into Australia. The Authors Guild joins the UK Society of Authors and the New Zealand Society of Authors in support of the retention of territorial copyright in Australia.

Authors Guild Director Paul Aiken said: “It’s hard to believe a country would choose to devalue its publishers' backlists in this way, forcing publishers to compete against cheap imports for the very titles they had chosen to invest in.”

Aiken went on to say: “It would have to lead to a shrinking publishing industry in Australia, since most publishers are so dependent on their backlists. This would be bad for all authors who are published in Australia, of course. In the long run, it would also be bad for Australian readers, who would find themselves increasingly dependent on the exports of foreign publishers, who would have little interest in nurturing Australia's literary culture.”

With this international support, the Australian Society of Authors reiterates its position that there should be NO change to the current restrictions on the parallel importation of books into Australia. We call upon the government to dismiss any recommendations to this end in the yet-to-be released Productivity Commission report into this matter.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Parallel Importation of Books inquiry

The Productivity Commission has reported that it has now delivered its report on the parallel importation of books into Australia to the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry. Senator Sherry is new to his role, thanks to a recent Cabinet reshuffle resulting from the resignation of Joel Fitzgibbon as Minister for Defence and the promotion of the former Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen. However, it is expected that the details of the report will be made public in the week beginning 13 July.
What authors must do in the interim -- and indeed after the release of the report (which is unlikely to offer us much succour) -- is to continue to lobby the Prime Minister and Cabinet to retain the current situation. The best way to do this is to write real letters to the PM expressing your own point of view on keeping the current provisions of the Copyright Act relating to the parallel importation of books into Australia in place as they represent a acceptable balance for creators and consumers.