Posted by #thedirector on 30th Jun 2019

PIRs are intertwined with territorial copyright under The Copyright Act that removal of one pretty much makes the other null in void. To understand the significance of change to our current legislation with regard to the book industry we have to look at what the industry is first. What does the fourth largest industry in the country look like?

• More than 7,000 new titles published annually in traditional publishing and over 15,000 by independent authors.

• Over $2billion in revenue

• Publishers direct investment in Australian writers for trade (non-educational)

books and their promotion is over $120M per annum.

• More than 1,000 businesses in Australia are engaged in the publishing industry,

employing over 4,000 people. Many are small businesses.

• More than 20,000 employed in the broader book industry, which includes book

sellers and printers. This doesn’t include the transport workers, independent marketers and unpaid bloggers, reviewers and beta readers.

• Over 300,000 Australians attend over 100 literary festivals each year.

• Australia has the 14th largest publishing industry in the world.

• Australia has the largest independent bookseller sector in the English language

• Average author income is only $13,000.

• The publishing industry does not depend on government subsidies. It is not

protected by government tariffs; it is fully self sufficient

• eBooks only make up 25% of the overall book market

So why tear it down? Who does it benefit to have our authors’ copyright reduced to the lowest in the world; from 70 years after death to just 15 which contravenes international standards? This was just one of the Productivity Commissions recommendations. They also wanted to introduce a ‘Fair Use’ policy which means that copyright holders would not be compensated for use of their content. This is an American legal principle that has enabled large enterprises in the US to use copyright material for free. Under Australian law, enterprises currently pay Australian writers, artists, creators, photographers and publishers to use their work, unless it’s for public interest purposes outlined in the legislation, such as reporting news or parody.

“Australia’s copyright arrangements are skewed too far in favor of copyright owners to the detriment of consumers and intermediate users.” The Productivity Commission report on the current provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (the 'Copyright Act')

So as the author and copyright holder you have too much control over what happens to your own work and how much or if you even get paid for it?

What is feeding this misconception is that Australians are paying too much for books. Prices are actually comparable with and in some cases better than the other major markets in the US and UK who still have their territorial copyright in place.

Credit: Australian Publishers Association “Nurturing Creativity in an Age of Innovation”

Again, what are the benefits to trading away our book industry? As I said in Part One for over 20 years our governments from the left and right have been trying to essentially give away our thriving industry. I can’t imagine a book market that doesn’t reflect our unique and diverse country. To have our authors disadvantaged on the global market and with no tangible explanation leaves me frustrated and offended. We must be prepared for the next time they try. Because they will and we can’t afford to lose.

Sources and further reading