Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mr Carr's argument for the elimination of territorial copyright

Bob Carr's article in the Weekend Australian (‘The Forum’ 13-14 December 2008) made for interesting reading.

I don't see that removing territorial copyright restriction will mean more books in working-class homes, especially children's books, which I read as the core of Mr Carr's article. I just don't see the argument that books will be cheaper if territorial copyright is removed. We're a market that covers a lot of miles internally and is far away from most other places, especially the US and the UK (the main book markets), so we're expensive to ship books to and to ship them around, so our books will be comparatively expensive however they are sourced. Look at the P&P costs Amazon charges.

There will be fewer children's books in Australian homes (that include children) if Australian children can't find themselves in the books they read. In the long run they'll be less interested in the reading habit if they're always having to read about other people, somewhere else. Is an open market a disincentive to local publishing? I think it is. If we're successful, as publisher and author, first here and then we sell overseas then a bookseller can import these successful books from the foreign publisher and cut our revenue and our author's revenue, then we'll both be struggling to survive professionally. It's the successful books in terms of sales that keep us around to publish another day. Eliminating territorial copyright would be disincentive to sell our books overseas, which the Australian children's publishing industry has been extremely good at doing. Eliminating territorial copyright condemns us to being an importing culture not an exporting culture. Neither the US or the UK are planning to get rid of their territorial copyright provisions.

1 comment:

Sheryl Gwyther said...

It is very worrying for Australian children's authors, Andrew. Even those of us who are only published in Australia and not overseas.
And even more of a worry is that there are only 18 submissions from authors so far to the Productivity Commission.
And why I'm trying to get my head around the issue so I can write a protest submission. Just the thought of more Americanisation of our culture makes my BLOOD BOIL! Now, I'm churned up all over again in time for Christmas eve. Bah, humbug!