On Copyright: IPA’s Praise for Publishers Under ‘Unprecedented Pressure’

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‘International copyright treaties and national laws allow publishers to invest in original authorship,’ the International Publishers Association says in a statement.

Valkenberg Park in The Netherlands’ southern city of Breda, March 17. Image – iStockphoto: Hung Chung Chih

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: The World Book and Copyright Day statement from Access Copyright in Canada

The ‘International Copyright Framework’
Organizations and associations this year’s World Book and Copyright Day (Friday, April 23) and World Intellectual Property Day (Monday, April 26) have elicited, of course, statements responsive to and reflective of the impact of the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.  An event like the onslaught of this pathogen—which at this writing has killed 3,105,726 people worldwide—is this year understandably eliciting many comments of appreciation and support from non-governmental organizations and other service associations.

From the International Publishers Association (IPA), Friday’s statement opens saying, “On World Book and Copyright Day 2021, the International Publishers Association pays tribute to publishers’ unstinting, positive contribution to the world during a year in which our societies have faced unprecedented pressure.”

Indeed, there may be a special concern about colleagues for some IPA members at this point. The organization’s last International Publishers Conference was hosted in 2018 in New Delhi by Indian publishing colleagues, and India, of course, is currently locked in a battle with one of the fiercest coronavirus assaults yet.

At this writing, in a Wall Street Journal article, Vibhuti Agarwal, Shan Li, and Suryatapa Bhattacharya report new cases numbering more than 300,000 daily. “India’s surge,” they write, “came after loosening restrictions and public complacency set in, with highly contagious variants now spreading around the world potentially serving as an accelerant. The outbreak threatens to extend the pandemic itself, driving worldwide numbers to new highs and creating an enormous viral pool that could become a breeding ground for new and potentially dangerous mutations.”

“The global copyright framework provides the foundation that publishers depend on to invest in publishing books.”IPA statement

Amid these and other alarming reports, the IPA’s statement reads, “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, publishers everywhere have continued to bring new talent and well-loved favorites to light; they have empowered vital, trustworthy research; and they have innovated to enable learners to pursue their education from afar.

“These undertakings have been possible because international copyright treaties and national laws allow publishers to invest in original authorship and new works of the mind. The global copyright framework provides the foundation that publishers depend on to invest in publishing books that educate, enlighten and entertain audiences around the world as well as new technologies to improve their widespread availability and accessibility.”

The IPA statement does recognize the fact that the “digital acceleration” that has driven many fans of print books to try ebooks and audio has not been an equally beneficial phenomenon.

“The widespread temporary closure of bookstores during the pandemic has had a serious impact on book sales,” the IPA’s text reads. “In some countries, book retailers have adapted by expanding their online offer of physical deliveries, ebooks, and audiobooks, although this has [in most cases] not been able to replace over-the-counter sales. But the IPA has also established that, in many countries, online book sales are impossible, which impacts readers as well as publishers.

The international copyright framework “is today more important than ever to ensure that publishers can continue to sustainably provide readers, learners, teachers, parents, scientists, researchers, and society as a whole with the publications they need.”

Bodour Al Qasimi

From IPA’s president Bodour Al Qasimi: “An IPA survey in 2020 revealed that publishers everywhere, especially those in the educational space, were hard-hit by the pandemic, but that those in developing economies reported the greatest hardships, by far.

“It’s essential to strengthen and protect local publishing so it can continue to give voice to home-grown authors and thinkers.

“They must not be left behind as the global book industry innovates and adapts its way to recovery.”

Jessica Sänger

And Jessica Sänger, who is chair of IPA’s copyright committee, is quoted saying, “This ongoing global crisis has demonstrated how much value publishers bring to readers all over the world.

“Publishers can continue to fulfill this vital role in society because the global copyright framework enables them to innovate and adapt even to major challenges.

“This World Book and Copyright Day, we should celebrate how copyright law has enabled publishers to deliver all the diverse literature, vital research, and educational resources they have continued to provide, sometimes against the odds.”

 AAP’s Pallante: ‘Taking Ideas to Market’

One of the IPA’s national member-associations, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), has also provided Publishing Perspectives with a statement, in this case for today’s (April 26) World Intellectual Property Day.

Maria A. Pallante

The American association’s president and CEO, Maria A. Pallante, is quoted, saying, “As announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva [WIPO], this year’s World Intellectual Property Day shines a light on the critical role of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the economy, which use intellectual property rights to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses.

“Here in Washington, DC, we’re proud to dedicate World IP Day to the many small- and medium-sized publishing houses in AAP’s membership and around the world.

“We note the enormous contributions of these businesses to literature, scientific advancement, and lifelong education, and thank them for investing in authors, readers, and the transformative power of written expression.

“We also pause to recognize the copyright clause of the US Constitution, which our nation’s leaders prioritized at the outset in 1787, when the United States was but a small- to medium-sized country inspired by the marketplace of ideas.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on copyright and publishing is here, more on the International Publishers Association is here, and more on the Association of American Publishers is here, and more on intellectual property is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner for the International Publishers Association.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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