Save Our Books has been launched in response to the government considering a change to copyright rules which could significantly impact authors’ livelihoods and damage the British high street and book industry.
On Monday the 7th of June, the Intellectual Property Office launched a consultation into the UK’s approach to copyright and trade following Brexit. The consultation considers a weakening of the copyright rules which are crucial for exporting books around the world and ensuring UK authors benefit financially from those sales. Changing what is known as ‘copyright exhaustion’, which governs when the control of a rights holder over the distribution of their property expires, would significantly harm author incomes, prompt a relocation of publishing away from the UK and damage the already suffering British high street by further supporting online retail giants.
“This is a critical moment and the biggest threat to our industry post-Brexit,” said Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association. “The strength of the UK’s copyright laws is key to ensuring authors and publishers are paid for their work. Weakening these laws would be devastating to authors’ income and the wider UK book industry, resulting in fewer books, by fewer authors, for fewer readers.”
Authors and publishers are concerned that changing the rules could lead to cheap international editions of books flooding into the UK, leading to a rapid decline in authors’ income. Warning of the direct impact on authors as well as the detrimental effect such a change would have on the global reputation of British writing, Kate Mosse highlighted that “[if] we don’t ensure writers remain respected for their work, many will be forced to leave the industry and Britain’s cultural landscape will suffer hugely.”
In response to the government’s consultation, an alliance of organisations has launched the Save Our Books campaign. Led by the Publishers Association, the Society of Authors, the Association of Authors’ Agents and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, Save Our Books aims to stop the government making the wrong decision on copyright. The campaign warns that ‘for the continued success of the publishing industry, the UK must ensure authors and publishers have control over the resale of their global products. The government must avoid an ‘international exhaustion framework’ and find a solution that allows UK authors and publishers to ensure different markets can access versions of a book best suited to their needs.’
The government is currently seeking views on the UK’s future rules for the exhaustion of intellectual property rights, and Save Our Books is encouraging people to write to their MPs to prevent irreparable damage to one of the UK’s biggest and most vital creative industries.
To find out more about the campaign and to write to your MP, visit the Save Our Books website here.