Australian Authors Speak Out Against Government Plan to Change Copyright Laws

Posted on June 10, 2016

Vicious cycle without territorial copyright in Australia

The Australian Society of Authors has teamed up with The Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Booksellers Association to protest their government's plans to lift Australia's parallel importation rules (PIRs) on books. In Australia today the importation of books is regulated. Retailers may only buy books from the publisher that holds the Australian rights to the books. The publisher that holds those rights gets an exclusive period in which to sell the books before other publishers import foreign versions. The purpose of the regulation is to protect the territorial copyright of Australian authors and their publishers.

If the rules are lifted and the Australian copyright and patent laws are changed, the ASA says that overseas stock will flood the market and hurt the income of local authors, bookstores and publishers. Income will also be reduced because authors earn lower royalties on the overseas editions of their books. The publishers note that their income is reduced by the import of foreign editions and that reduces the amount of money they can invest in local authors.

Australia's publishers publish 7,000 new books each year which generates nearly $1.5 billion.The think tank that put forth the proposal says that Australian book prices are too high and that allowing imported books to be sold earlier would lower prices for consumers. It seems clear that the authors, retailers and publishers will be hurt financially by the plan.

The Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Booksellers Association say that the changes to copyright law will destroy the world's 17th largest book market. The booksellers, authors and publishers have created Books Create Australia to help stop the changes. In this video Australian authors authors Tom Keneally, Magda Szubanski, Jeannette Winterson, Hannah Richell, Michael Robotham and Nikki Gemmell discuss the proposed changes and how they will hurt book lovers. Take a look:



Image: Books Create Australia