By Edward Nawotka
LONDON: “It’s the least bad outcome from where we got started,” says Simon Juden, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Publishers Association, with regard to the Google Books Settlement. “That is,” he reminds me, “a personal opinion.”
“In continental Europe there is almost a religious opposition to the settlement,” continues Juden, “The UK reaction is much more moderate. Germany, France and the Nordic states see it as a way for Google to take their content and make it available in the US. Of course, that is already happening,” adding, “At the very least, this way publishers will get paid.”
Getting paid is becoming increasingly important in this recession. “The UK economy is not in a good place,” says Juden, who holds a PhD in pure math, once worked with satellites, and likes numbers. “Interest rates are at 0.5%, yet consumer confidence is down and trade publishing is really feeling it.” What’s more, UK publishers continue to reel from the collapse of Woolworths earlier this year, taking with it 20-25% of the book distribution in the country and costing publishers some £50 million. “On a positive note, educational and technical publishing is doing fine. It’s a recession and people are going back to school,” says Juden.
Just as his new American counterpart Tom Allen told me last month, copyright is also the PA’s top international priority.
“We’re in a funny place right now with regards to copyright” says Juden, “There’s a feeling out there among some consumers that everything should be free and they don’t understand the need for copyright. But I don’t get that. Just think of Facebook and its effort to take ownership of the photos. Users fought it because they understood what it meant.”
Though ebooks do not yet represent a sizable chunk of the market, Juden already has his sights set on battling peer-to-peer pirates who plague the music and movie industries. “We’re eagerly awaiting the Digital Britain Report, which is due out this summer,” he says, referring to the UK government’s policy plan for developing technology in the country. “We’ve been working with the government to come up with a policy, ideally one that would have sanctions at the end of the process.”
Ideally, he’d like the Internet Service Providers to take responsibility for shutting down pirates. “It’s not practical for publishers, even a major corporate player, to sue individuals.”
Unusually for an Englishman, Juden acknowledges that the French may be ahead of the curve on this issue.
“In France they just passed a law that basically says, ‘three-strikes-you’re-out.’ Now that’s something.”
VISIT: The Publishers Association online.
READ: Why Cory Doctorow thinks the French “Three Strikes Law” won’t work.
FORWARD: This to a friend.