Hachette Book Group’s Pietsch Named American Publishers’ Chair

In News by Porter Anderson

The Association of American Publishers has a court date on February 7 in its high-profile lawsuit of Maryland’s new library lending act.

Snow on the Joseph Henry statue at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, where the Association of American Publishers has its headquarters. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Tim Brown

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

Pallante: ‘Public Policy Challenges’
The busy Association of American Publishers (AAP)—close on the heels of its year-end StatShot report for 2021 and its announcement of finalists and category winners in the voluminous PROSE Awards program—has also announced its board’s new slate of officers for the 2022-2023 cycle.

  • Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch has been named chair
  • Julia Reidhead, who is president and chair of WW Norton & Company, has been named vice-chair
  • And SAGE Publishing CEO Blaise R. Simqu joins the board as an appointed director
  • Jeremy North, managing director of books at Taylor & Francis, continues in his role as AAP’s treasurer
  • Brian Napack, CEO of John Wiley & Sons, is the immediate past chair, having concluded his 2020-2022 term, now handing off to Pietsch

In a prepared welcoming statement, AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante says, “Throughout its history, AAP has been governed by a board of directors committed to preserving an independent and innovative publishing industry for the benefit of current and future societies.

Maria A. Pallante

“With Michael Pietsch and Julia Reidhead assuming pivotal leadership roles, this organization remains poised to address the numerous and serious public policy challenges that threaten the vitality of publishing across all sectors.

“As we start a new year, we’re indebted to outgoing chairman Brian Napack and his team at Wiley for exceptional service to AAP’s membership during a global pandemic, and for Brian’s steadfast belief in the power of publishing to foster progress in the world.

“We also recognize Pearson’s Tim Bozik, who cycles off of the executive committee this month after nearly five years of service as a board officer.”

Pietsch: ‘To Preserve the Foundational Copyright Principles’

From left: Michael Pietsch, Julia Reidhead, Blaise R. Simqu, Jeremy North, and Brian Napack

In a comment relative to his newly announced role, Pietsch says, “AAP is engaged in a series of critical initiatives that go straight to the heart of how we value, protect, and incentivize authors and publishers.

“It’s an honor to stand with my board colleagues and the entire AAP team as we fight to preserve the foundational copyright principles that have served culture, education, and the economy for so long.”

His reference to copyright, of course—like part of Pallante’s reference to public policy—most immediately reflects the association’s recent lawsuit in the case of the state of Maryland’s new law on library ebook licensing, court action that has drawn the attention and backing of the International Publishers Association, the Federation of European Publishers and more institutions.

“The Maryland Act, both on its face and by the accounts of its supporters is an attempt to unravel decades of federal legislation and jurisprudence that delineate the contours of copyright law, including for digital licensing.”AAP Court Filing

With a February 7 hearing date approaching, the association on Friday (January 28), the AAP has asked for a temporary restraining order. Court filings show the association writing in an answer to Maryland’s filings, “Maryland opens its brief by stating, “This case is not about copyright protection,” but follows with an extensive discussion that proves the opposite. Maryland makes clear that it intended both to interfere with the statutory provisions of the United States Copyright Act and to challenge the authority of the United States Congress to weigh and determine questions of copyright policy in the digital environment.”

The association goes on to describe what it asserts is a rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma imposed on publishers by the Maryland legislation—which is being followed by similar actions in other states, though turned back by New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, in her state.

“The Maryland Act, both on its face and by the accounts of its supporters,” writes the AAP in its court filing of late last week, “is an attempt to unravel decades of federal legislation and jurisprudence that delineate the contours of copyright law, including for digital licensing.

“The Maryland Act subjects publishers to a state mandated licensing scheme that is at odds with the Copyright Act. Under the Maryland Act, publishers will now face state-law liability—from monetary penalties to jail time—for choosing to abide by the authority and provisions of the Copyright Act. These conflicts are the definition of a preempted state law.”

The 37-page filing’s  request: “As set forth herein, the Maryland Act should be enjoined as preempted, and Maryland’s motion to dismiss AAP’s preemption claims should be denied.

“Likewise, Maryland’s motion to dismiss AAP’s remaining commerce clause and due process clause claims should be denied.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Association of American Publishers is here, more on libraries is here, more on copyright is here, and more on the United States market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us 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 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 was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.