TRADING AWAY OUR BOOKS Sunday, 14 April 2019

TRADING AWAY OUR BOOKS Sunday, 14 April 2019

Posted by #thedirector on 30th Jun 2019

Changes to Parallel Import Restrictions (PIR) would have a flow on effect to our territorial copyright laws, severely impacting protections currently in place for Author intellectual property protection.

“I am surprised there is support for an “open” market in Australia because it would be no such thing. It would actually be a “surrendered” market. The entire publishing world still works on the basis of territorial copyright and it will do so for a long time to come.”

From ‘No Surrender’ by Garth Nix, The Australian Bookseller and Publisher

“Australian books could be crowded out altogether; forced off the shelves by floods of cheap books by foreign writers.”

From a letter by Jenny Darling to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, July 14, 2008,

posted on the ASA website:

Opening our industry up to parallel import would be devastating to our $5billion self-sustaining book industry. I don’t like to get political it just isn’t where I think my voice is valuable but I have been struggling to not be offended that for over 20 years our industry has had to fight tooth and nail to remain strong and it could all be lost. I feel like our industry is going to be cannibalised under successive governments to bolster their free trade agreements; seriously, it doesn’t make economic sense to trade away a self-sufficient industry. What is our government going to get in return? How does it benefit our trading partners to crush our strong book industry? The latest in a long line of ministers to try and force our industry to submit is our current PM, he did this in 2016 and he could be leading our country through another trade negotiation soon, can he answer these questions?

“The cultural cost of allowing parallel imports is simply too great. It would be a strong disincentive towards the publishing of Australian stories and to the unearthing and nurturing of new talent.”

From a letter by Nick Earls to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, July 8, 2008,

posted on the ASA website:

I implore every author, reader, illustrator, publisher and industry specialist to please be knowledgeable; read all the available information (I’ve included some links below) and be ready to fight for our amazing industry because we will be attacked again (as another election looms it is only a matter of time before trade agreements are negotiated again) and this time, we need to be louder as more change to this legislation will swallow us all whole no matter our publishing choices.

“By bringing out Australian editions first, our publishers can prevent US or British publishers dumping low-royalty stock here, ripping off our writers and stealing the market.

Let’s be clear about what the unqualified removal of import restrictions would mean. US, British and Canadian copyright law would continue to prevent the sale of Australian editions of Tim Flannery or Geraldine Brooks or Helen Garner in those countries. But there would be nothing to prevent US, British or Canadian editions of their books being sold here no matter what contractual agreements had been made. We would have the worst of both worlds for our writers if our booksellers, having been allowed to parallel import without restriction, marked up low-royalty foreign editions of Australian books.”

From ‘Save Their Stories’ by Michael Heyward, The Sydney Morning Herald,

August 9-10, 2008.

Below is the conclusion of ABA Response: Intellectual Property Arrangements Productivity Commission Inquiry Report Submitted by Joel Becker & Tim White on behalf of the Australian Booksellers Association 17 January 2017

Despite what appears to be a lengthy attempt to justify their position, the reality is that the report, in so far as it relates to the book industry, does not respond at all to the Minister’s original referral as it does not address how the recommendation to remove PIRs will improve the overall wellbeing of Australian society; encourage creativity, investment and new innovation by individuals, businesses and through collaboration; allow access to an increased range of quality and value goods and services. With the power to make recommendations for the Australian public comes the responsibility to make them for the public benefit. The PC has failed in this regard.

By removing Parallel Importation Rules, there will be a serious and deleterious impact on those careers, and the businesses they represent. This will trickle through from the start-ups of the last few years, the businesses that have grown, and the long-established businesses that have been serving their communities over the decades.

The removal of Territorial Copyright through the elimination of Parallel Importation Rules as a territory with market integrity would be a cultural and commercial disaster.

There will be no benefit to consumers, but there will be significant losses – in employment, in the reduction of publishing, and in ready access to the widest range of Australian and international books. And prices will not come down.

If the aims of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission are to ensure speedy availability and reduce prices by opening the market, it will fail on both accounts.

The government has a policy of innovation and being a clever country. It is counter to that policy to – without fundamentally sound evidence to support a decision – reduce the potential for access to books and information by placing further financial and access stresses on booksellers.

The ABA believes that it is in Australia’s social, creative and economic interest to ensure a vibrant and sustainable literary and knowledge community. The bookselling and publishing industry is a finely balanced, self-sustaining one that plays a key role in achieving those aims.

The ABA submits that the current regime, supplemented by industry best practice as demonstrated by the 14/14 arrangements achieves the correct balance in so far as copyright is concerned between encouraging and supporting local businesses and publishers, and ensuring fair and open consumer choice in the market place.

The associations representing those sectors are working closely to ensure that we have a viable sector, and that means ensuring that consumers have access to books at competitive prices with a high level of service and easy access to titles from within Australia, and from around the world.

The ABA calls upon the Government to reject the recommendations of the Productivity Commission regarding Parallel Importation Rules.

More Reading

What Parallel Import Laws look like for other industries and the effect on Intellectual Property Rights