Tag: Territorial Copyright on books


You will probably have heard by now about the Productivity Commission  Report that recommends abolishing Territorial Copyright on books and so allowing the Parallel Importation of books. Many Australians are up in arms about this.

We have initiated a new blogsite to help explain our campaign and the issues behind it, and to demonstrate the breadth of opposition amongst authors, publishers, independent booksellers, parents, teachers, librarians, printers and book lovers.

The blogsite address is http://savingaussiebooks.wordpress.com/ This new website offers information (easy to understand), links, comments and access to practical ways people can contact  (and lobby) politicians, letters to the editors – and getting our concerns out to the general community.

The site also has guest bloggers willing to put their names to blog entries, (hopefully not just authors) because there’re many other professions and trades who will be affected by this change of law.

Please pass on to as many people as you can in your circles.

The timing is URGENT as the Federal Government will make its decision in the weeks ahead.  Many thanks for your interest and support.

Behind the bulldust….

Get on any number of commentating, opinion blogs, like Crikey.com and the leading newspaper online blogs you’ll find a host of passionate people arguing their corner regarding the proposed lifting of Territorial Copyright on Books.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen such passion lashing back and forward since the days after Princess Di died in that high-speed car crash in France … you remember …

MI5 and the Palace organised it!’  ‘No, it was the paparazzi.’   ‘I swear Arab terrorists are involved!’

Blah, blah, blah. I remember thinking, ‘Why the hell didn’t the silly woman put her seatbelt on at that speed!’

But I digress.

Re the current debate on Territorial Copyright in the online media, you don’t just get reasoned debate, you get name-calling, insults, irrational arguments and abuse.

I’ve been following one of these on Crikey.com – poor Shane Maloney copped a serve, as did Mem Fox – both luckily haven’t replied to the abuse. No point trying to argue with unreasonable, narrow-minded, faceless bloggers.

If you get on to Courier Mail online, be prepared to throw your hat into the ring, have your say and run. Red-neck commentators are out in force – but that’s pretty usual up here in my neck of the woods, in fact, it’s fun to throw a ball in the bull-ants’ nest occasionally.

But, of course, the anti-author brigade aren’t just in Queensland, they’re all over the place.

Why is this? Do Australians think we earn so much money on royalties we lounge in our spa baths drinking caffè lattes as we tap out our next bestsellers on our little Netbooks? That we’re spunging off the poor working man and woman? That the impression I’m getting as I tour the opinion pages.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Authors make as little as 6 – 10% a book and that’s only if the book is sold for its Retail Rec Price at a bookseller. If an author’s books are picked up by the school discount market and distributed that way, they could be facing even less royalties. If the book is illustrated, well, guess what? That (possible) 10% is split in half.

I think it’s imperative to let Australians know the facts otherwise they won’t support attempts to save our industry. If you want to do something to help in a practical way go to the new blog site  SAVING AUSSIE BOOKS

A side issue: People who are so down on authors (and they feel the same about artists and musicians as well) see no value in Creativity.  They see it as a waste of time and of Government funding.  Why do you think this is so?


Culture for DUMMIES

Forgive the acerbic tone to this post, but I can’t let Professor Allan Fels’ latest comment go regarding his desire to scrap Territorial Copyright laws for Australian authors.

This is part of what he said last night on ABC TV‘s 7:30 Report about our present copyright protection: “There’s also a claim that it’s good for culture, that is, it’s good for culture that Australian book readers should pay more for books. I don’t understand that.”

An open letter to Professor Allan Fels, Bob Carr and all….

Well, let me enlighten you, Professor Fels with my Culture for DUMMIES.

Heinemann’s Australian dictionary says culture means, ‘ a development or improvement of the intellect or behaviour; the distinctive practices and beliefs of a society.’  Well, that’s pretty straightforward, don’t you think, Professor Fels?

Let’s put it in context of Australian children’s picture books and novels. After all, that’s the area that will be directly hit by yours and Bob Carr’s, Dymocks Bookstores, and the discount retailers Woolworths and Coles’s bid to destroy Australian Territorial Copyright on books.

If the Parallel Importation Restrictions are abolished or watered-down (as desired by you and your fellow free-marketeers) future Australian books risk losing their Australian content, voices and experiences.

In the world of children’s books – and maybe you have no experience in this area – the risk is even greater. Australian children must grow up having access to books from their own country. Books that hold mirror images of their own experiences not those of children living in Manhattan, Texas or Manchester. Books that echo with Australian voices, multi-cultural and all; stories connecting with our own place in the world.

If PIRs are abolished and Australian authored books are published overseas they WILL BE CHANGED to suit American or British tastes. Then they will be exported back into this country with American spelling, language and terms – gone will be Wagga Wagga, Mum, footpath, rugby union, gum tree, Indooroopilly, possum and a host of other words.

But even worse than losing our own language is the threat to Australian content in books. Aussie children understand Aussie humour – North American and British children don’t quite get it. Okay, I mustn’t generalise, so let’s just say that publishers (the gatekeepers) in the US and the UK don’t ‘get’ Australian humour … just ask popular Australian children’s author, Morris Gleitzman about his experiences.

And what can Australian authors do when a large American publishing firm says we’ll publish your book, but we’ll need to make a few changes. If we refuse the changes we do not get published.

We’ve seen this happen already where Australian books are picked up by US publishing firms. Even picture books are not immune – they become bland, superficial facsimiles of their Aussie twins.

So, Professor Fels, please open your eyes and your mind; life isn’t meant to be all about making more money. And don’t try to pull the wool over Aussie eyes – people who want to buy a book in this country are not bound by the price at the bookshop. We all have access to free libraries across this wide land so no child needs to go without a book because of what it costs. (And let me remind you, the Productivity Commission says there’s no guarantee books would be any cheaper if the restrictions are lifted).

I’m just an ordinary Australian children’s writer trying to make a living in my beloved country – following my passion for storytelling set on this land, that uses the language and experiences of its peoples.

Like my fellow authors I live with rejections, rewrites and edits on work that might take many years to complete. I don’t complain if I’m lucky to earn 10% of the RRP on a proportion of a few thousand published copies.

I just move on to writing the next one with the thrill of knowing many children read my stories and enjoy them; and the knowledge that I’m part of a noble profession working to ensure our Australian culture in its written form will survive and thrive, long after you’ve become a tiny, full-stop dot in the book of Australian history.