24 February 2009

Parallel Importation

We wrote and erased many paragraphs trying to come up with a short clear summary of this complex issue: what it is, what it isn't, and what it means to the Australian publishing industry.
And then we realised that the MOST ARTICULATE PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY had already done it for us.

The Productivity Commission asked for submissions relating to 'a range of issues in regard to the parallel importation of books'. And boy did they receive them - 269 at last count.

Many A&U authors and illustrators have made clear, cogent, interesting and passionate submissions: Garth Nix, Penni Russon, Christobel Mattingley, Shaun Tan, Garry Disher, Wendy Orr, Libby Gleeson, Steven Herrick, Terry Denton, Barry Jonsberg, Elise Hurst, Nadia Wheatley, Ron Brooks and Anna Ciddor. Not to mention our own PAG.

Allen & Unwin's position is this:
'The certainty provided by the Copyright Act, coupled with the incentive to operate efficiently embedded in the 1991 parallel importation provisions, have led to a situation where benefits are derived for consumers, authors, booksellers, printers and publishers. As well as this Australia derives a cultural benefit from the publication of close to 14 000 Australian authored books every year - books that help Australians understand themselves and their country better.'
You can read our full submission here.

There are also submissions from lots of other publishers and authors, as well as booksellers, printers, librarians, designers, illustrators, typesetters and agents - around 95 per cent of which are against scrapping the copyright protection to allow parallel importation.
Tim Winton's submission is a fascinating history of publishing in Australia. Frank Moorhouse almost had us cheering by the last paragraph. Tom Keneally, Kate Grenville, Nick Earls, Tim Flannery, Sonya Hartnett, Peter Carey - pick your favourite author and see what they have to say on the subject.

A draft report will be released in March, and the Commission is to present its findings to the Australian Government in May 2009. Until then, an entire industry holds its breath.

1 comment:

tintinaus said...

One sentence: US book covers are awful.