Is Territorial Copyright Defensible in the Age of E-books?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


The instant and virtually frictionless digital distribution of e-books is posing a real challenge to the enforcement of territorial copyright. As discussed in our lead article today, English language e-books are in demand all over the globe. But that demand is likely to put US, UK and even Australian publishers in conflict over territorial copyright.

The answer for the publishers, as suggested by Larry Kirshbaum, is to shift to a model of purchasing world rights. In the meantime, Kirshbaum also suggests that technology is good enough that those who sell e-books, be they distributors or retailers, should be able to self-police and prevent unauthorized purchases. But, common sense says that people rarely refuse a sale.

The question remains: Is territorial copyright, particularly for English titles, defensible or even viable in the age of the e-book?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.