Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An update on parallel importation

I notice the so-called review of parallel importation has been done, and that public submissions will be called. Could you please educate us a little more about this and what the local publishing industry believes would be best? No doubt the ASA will do something calling on its members, however, many readers of your blog might not be members. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/20/2521427.htm

Thank you for this question, because I didn't think to blog about the review - and I should have. I'm going to paste in below the press release from the Australian Literary Agents' Association, of which the agency I work for is a member, as it pretty much says everything I could say, but more concisely and clearly. I also advise you to read Henry Rosenbloom's blog post:

Media Release
Monday 23 March 2009

Bad news for Australian Authors

The Australian Literary Agents’ Association (ALAA) believes that the Productivity Commission’s draft report on Australia's Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books released on Friday 20 March is bad news for Australian authors.

The recommendation by the Productivity Commission—that the market be opened and that parallel importation of books be freely permitted except for the first 12 months in a book’s life—appears to be nothing other than meddling with an existing successful model with no predictable outcome, except the dismantling of an industry. It is excellent news for publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and America.

The Productivity Commission believes that this will ‘preserve some certainty for local publishers to market new authors’, but what business is going to be foolish enough to spend many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars producing and distributing and marketing a new ‘product’—preparing the soil so to speak—only to have other businesses reap the benefits of their work and expense?

12 months is nothing in the life of a book. Marketing a book is merely the beginning of a successful book’s life. Books establish themselves within the community by word of mouth, that is, slowly and they last for generations. Under the proposed new regime just at the time an Australian book is finding its way in the market there would no longer be territorial copyright for the author. The books we all know and love—Voss, The Power of One, Cloudstreet, Oscar and Lucinda, Lilian’s Story, Tomorrow When the War Began, My Brother Jack, The Book Thief, Possum Magic—would essentially lose their homebase.

Territorial copyright is a right for all authors in the United Kingdom and America. Under the Productivity Commission’s suggested changes to the copyright law Australian writers will no longer be able to compete on the same terms with writers in these countries.

The Rudd Government claims to be committed to a creative Australia. Our authors are living it now, producing world-class books with the essential support of a thriving local industry. Australian writers are widely read outside Australia and have been awarded the world’s most prestigious literary prizes. They are able to attract such attention because they are first and foremost published with verve, commitment and passion here in Australia. In the past thirty years we have managed to keep Australian writers working at home and exporting their work. We do not want to return to the past and the possibility that Australian writers will have to go abroad and have their books published in another country to be better served by their publisher. Let us keep our industry flourishing and our authors here.

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