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UK authors, illustrators protest mooted copyright changes

In the UK, over 2600 authors and illustrators have signed an open letter to protest the government’s reconsideration of copyright and trade laws, reports Publishing Perspectives.

The letter comes after publishing industry organisations launched the Save our Books campaign in June, protesting the mooted changes to copyright laws which they claim would lead to a flood of cheap copies of UK books coming back into the home market.

Signatories to the letter, which was published as an open letter to the editor in the Sunday Times, include Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro, Philip Pullman, Maggie O’Farrell and Bernardine Evaristo.

‘The Intellectual Property Office is currently consulting on the UK’s future exhaustion regime,’ the letter reads. ‘If they decide to introduce an international exhaustion framework, authors will be unable to limit foreign editions of their books being sold into the UK—undercutting their domestic sales.’

In a statement, Publishers Association CEO Stephen Lotinga said the letter ‘is a clear and urgent call from authors to avoid an outcome that weakens our copyright laws’.

‘Britain is a world leader in publishing and currently exports more books than any other country in the world,’ said Lotinga. ‘The wrong outcome would jeopardize the whole books industry and vandalize the UK’s cultural landscape. It would mean fewer books, by fewer authors, for fewer readers.’

Prior to Brexit, the UK fell under the EU’s copyright agreement, meaning books could be sold freely in Europe but not reimported to the domestic market. The Intellectual Property Office has since launched a consultation ‘which considers a weakening of copyright rules crucial for exporting books around the world and ensuring that UK authors benefit financially from the sales’. Author royalties on export sales are much lower than in the UK market, so if authors can’t prevent their copies from around the world being sold back into the UK, export sales risk eroding domestic sales.


Category: International news