Hunters & Collectors enter the fray…

This week marks the release of the Productivity Commission’s review of Territorial Copyright laws for Australian authors.

Musicians already know what’s ahead for the book publishing industry if Territorial Copyright law is abolished or watered down by the Productivity Commission and the Australian government. Musicians copped the ramifications over 10 years ago.

Now Aussie musicians are joining authors in speaking out against the current push to abolish or water down authors’ territorial copyrights.

As you’re aware, this push is led by the mega-retail cartel of Woolworths, Coles and Dymocks, and their ‘snake-oil salesmen’, Allan Fels, Bob Carr, Don Grover and an occasional right-wing commentator. These ‘free-market’ backroom boys – those mouths behind this attempt to emasculate the writing industry by lifting the restrictions against the Parallel Importation of books have many friends in the upper echelons of power.

In an article in The Age, Mark Seymour from the iconic Aussie band, Hunters and Collectors ripped into them. He tells of how the same thing happened to the Australian music industry in 1991, against the protestations of musicians like himself and Peter Garrett (of Midnight Oil fame and now Minister in the Rudd Labor Government), composers and all those involved in the industry.

But it still got pushed through the Howard government, added and abetted by the Prices Surveillance Authority and their head, Allan Fels. Yes, the same Allan Fels pushing for the abolition of territorial copyright for authors today.

You may have seen recent comments from Bob Carr and Allan Fels that CDs are cheaper now than ever before. But, like the deceit they spread now of wanting cheaper books for Australians so it was for the music industry.

As Mark Seymour says … The reality is that the Australian music industry is in deep trouble. It has halved in size in the past five to seven years and the fall in the price of CDs is directly attributable to a spectacular decline in demand as a result of digital downloading and copying — it has nothing to do with the removal of import regulations.

It’s too late to plead with the Productivity Commission to see sense in this issue – but it’s not too late to appeal to every Federal politician in this country if the decision goes against authors.

Our vibrant, thriving book publishing industry is at risk – an industry supplying many thousands of jobs for authors, illustrators to printers, agents, distributors, publishers and booksellers.

To quote Mark Seymour again  … as was the case for the music industry, these big retail chains are the only sector who stand to gain anything from reform. What appears to be an altruistic championing of the rights of the consumer is in fact nothing more than a repeat of the grasping self-interest on display in 1991.

Read Mark Seymour’s article and send it on.

3 thoughts on “Hunters & Collectors enter the fray…

  1. An Australian writer’s alert regarding the loss of Australian culture with the threat of Parallel Importation of Books.
    Some of you may know of author and teacher Sheryl Gwyther. Lothian Books published her first novel, Secrets of Eromanga in 2006. In 2002 was awarded an Australian Society of Authors’ Mentorship. In 2009 Sheryl and other Australian authors and publishers are fighting for their livelihoods. For Sheryl, ”writing is my life now … and with my visits to classrooms and libraries enthusing kids about the amazing world of Australian dinosaurs and about writing, I’m never bored.” You may or may not have heard but Australian authors and culture is under attack from giant global corporate interests.
    On June 30 Sheryl wrote, “The Productivity Commission took their findings to the Australian Parliament on whether Australian authors and illustrators will lost Territorial Copyright. Over the past decade this protection has ensured a phenomenal increase of quality Australian-authored books and the emergence of a battalion of award-winning authors. More significantly is the fact it has given the world an insight into our country through the eyes and words of Australian authors.”
    Do you want to see Australian children reading books without Australian content and ‘Americanised’ with Mom instead of Mum or faucets instead of taps, and vacation instead of holiday? It could happen if pressure from some quarters (e.g. Dymocks company’s management and major retail chains of Woolworths, Coles, K Mart, Big W and Target) convinces the Australian Government to relax the current Parallel Importation Restrictions on books. (PIRs)
    What is Parallel Importation of Books? Parallel importation would allow Australian booksellers to import books from the US and the UK, irrespective of whether they’re already published in Australia. These two countries prohibit Parallel Importation of books into their countries so why allow it in Australia?
    How will it affect Australian book buyers? Removing PIRs will flood the market with inferior imports, drown out Aussie content/language and reduce your choice of books – with no reliable evidence that books will cost you less.
    If you want to read Australian books; if you want your kids to see their lives and experiences reflected in the books they read, write to your politicians. Tell them NOT to remove PIRs on books. This is an issue that every good teacher should be concerned about. So I have asked that her open letter be published.
    Peter Curtis,
    Primary Teacher, AEU.


  2. Great to hear the widening network of support for the Australian publishing industry – especially from one who knows – Mark Seymour – having experienced the loss of parallel importation restrictions himself in the music industry.

    A powerful closing quote.

    Aint it funny that only one bookseller is in that coalition? Only one direct link to the publishing industry…. Amongst all those retail mega-giants… Now that might just say something in itself about the coalitions commitment to our vibrant Australian publishing. And about their commitment to the best interests of the Australian public.

    Retail mega-giants… market monopoly… Hmmm… To me that reads: Money, money, MONEY. Their profits!


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