IPA’s Secretary General travelled virtually to Manila and Melbourne at the end of November to promote copyright at the Philippines International Copyright Summit and prompt conversations about Copyright, the Freedom to Publish and Sustainability at the Independent Publishing Conference.

Philippines International Copyright Summit (PICS)

On 23 November, IPA Secretary General, José Borghino spoke on a panel at the first ever Philippines International Copyright Summit (PICS) in Manila. The Summit was organized by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) to raise awareness of and generate respect for intellectual property rights, especially copyright, and highlighting its economic contribution in helping accelerate recovery from the effects of the pandemic. Speakers at the Summit included local and international experts and policymakers along with Filipino Government representatives who described state programs encouraging literacy and reading in the archipelago.

Borghino spoke about the IPA’s extremely important partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to gather statistics on the global publishing industry. He also spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the book sector and readers around the world, and how different regions and countries coped depending on whether there existed a financial infrastructure that accommodated online sales, a digital infrastructure that made ebooks easily deliverable, plus governments that acknowledged publishing and bookselling as essential industries. In countries where these conditions existed, publishers survived and even thrived in 2020. By stark contrast, in those countries where these things did not exist or were fraught, publishers had a disastrous year.

Borghino also spoke about the existential importance of copyright and the global campaign to weaken or dilute it orchestrated by the BigTech platforms.

The IPA hope that IPOPHIL’s pioneering efforts to highlight the economic, social and cultural benefits of copyright will be repeated in the region and elsewhere.

SPN Independent Publishing Conference

On 26 November IPA Secretary General, José Borghino, spoke via a pre-recorded message during the Independent Publishing Conference held in Melbourne Australia. He outlined how copyright and Freedom to Publish continue to demand the IPA’s special attention because they remain crucial to publishers around the world but are increasingly threatened. On the copyright front, the IPA must fight against concerted campaigns in many countries attempting to dilute copyright protection or introduce over-broad exceptions. For Freedom to Publish, it is no longer just State censorship that silences authors and publishers, it’s also libel or defamation laws and its pressure groups using social media or their influence on school boards to remove books from library shelves. Ultimately, authors, publishers, booksellers and libraries self-censor to avoid controversy.

Borghino asked whether publishers can keep doing business the way they used to? Through the books they produce, publishers have a vital role to play in discussing the climate crisis. We can inform, educate and activate. That’s what the IPA has already been doing in partnership with the UN with the SDG Childrens Book Club and the SDG Publishers Charter.

 

But we need to be able to do more than just report on the debates and circulate useful information. Publishers must question their own business practices? What is the environmental impact of book production and distribution? Should we look again at the sale-or-return doctrine? Is it now time to really push for Print on Demand as an alternative to overstretched global supply chains? Does the book sector feel the urgency of the United Nations Decade of Action which finishes in 2030 or the Paris Agreement in 2050? With its members, the IPA will have to focus on these questions in the near future.

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