By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Pansa: ‘Copyright Underpins It All’In one of those small-world moments, Brazil’s Karine Pansa, the current president of the International Publishers Association (IPA), found herself onstage in South Korea on Wednesday (June 14) next to her predecessor in IPA leadership, Sharjah’s Bodour Al Qasimi.
Al Qasimi was there to lead the Guest of Honor Sharjah program with Fahim Al Qasimi at the 65th Seoul International Book Fair, and you can read our coverage on the opening of the Sharjah pavilion and the fair here.
Pansa’s comments in the opening news conference—which featured both Sharjah delegation leaders and the South Korean first lady—touched on fundamental elements of the freedom to publish and the critical importance of copyright. Here are her comments in full.
Karine Pansa: Seoul International Book Fair 2023
“What an honor it is to be back here at this wonderful Seoul International Book Fair. The last time IPA was here was in 2019–only four years ago, but it feels like another time.
“Back in 2019, this fair hosted the ceremony for our freedom to publish prize, the Prix Voltaire, and had a dedicated exhibition and program on banned books and censorship. Back then, our Prix Voltaire laureate was Khaled Lotfy who was serving a five-year prison sentence for publishing a book. It gives me great pleasure to share with you that Khaled was released from prison at the end of last year and is back publishing books. You should also know that it was a source of great strength to him in those dark days to know that his colleagues from around the world were supporting him.
“Khaled’s story is one that many publishers in many countries could face. International solidarity among the publishing community is essential.
“That solidarity must also apply to our work on IPA’s other pillar, copyright.
“Every time I attend a book fair, I wish I could bring those policymakers who question the importance of copyright in the sharing of culture and knowledge. Just look at the wonderful range of stands here. Books from all over the world, being translated, adapted, being discovered by new readers. Copyright underpins it all.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this year’s fair—Inhuman, Beyond Human, Into Human—brings to my mind our current fascination for technology and especially ‘artificial intelligence.’
“The Human Artistry Campaign makes a point of underlining the interaction of technology with art throughout history but the importance of the ‘human’ in creative works. Our gathering here in Seoul is also about the human, those personal contacts that we create that help us understand each other, our societies, and that make our world a little bit better.
“What publishers do is remarkable and we should celebrate it more.
“As Khaled Lotfy said, through his brother here in Seoul in 2019, publishing is the noblest profession.”
The 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire was conferred on Iraqi publisher Mazin Lateef Ali on May 22 at Norway’s World Expression Forum, WEXFO. The founder of Dar Mesopotamia in Baghdad, Lateef was known to publish a range of books, including many about the Jewish communities and individuals of Iraq prior to his kidnapping at gunpoint on January 21, 2020.
He reportedly has not been heard from since.
More from Publishing Perspectives on issues of the freedom to publish and freedom of expression is here, more on the Prix Voltaire is here, and more on the International Publishers Association is here. More on copyright is here, and more on the South Korean market is here.
Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.