The gloves are off!

Many Australian eyes will be on Barack Obama’s Inauguration to the White House on Tuesday the 20th January.

But Tuesday marks a far more important date for Australian readers and writers.

It’s D-day for submissions to the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the lifting of Copyright Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books into Australia. The last chance for you to voice your concern about this possibility.

Publishing industries shake their collective heads in dismay and disbelief – how can this be the sixth time this battle has been fought? Independent booksellers wonder where it will all lead – they’d only hoped for an overhaul of the 30-day rule on the restrictions.

Authors who fear for their livelihoods cope in different ways – some are out there fighting against it, some can’t face the thought of getting involved in politics (and that is exactly what this is), some feel disempowered by the might of the forces lined up against Australian writing.

The main players supporting the scrapping of Copyright Restrictions appear to be the huge book-selling chains – Dymocks, Woolworths and Myers; Bob Carr (ex-Premier of NSW and director of Dymocks); and individuals who support the free market (from all political persuasions, State and Federal government Treasuries and Competition Commissions).

This issue reared its head for the sixth time at the Premiers’ conference last July. It was never debated; it slipped through and was signed off on by all Premiers. Sydney Morning Herald journalist and author, David Marr writes of how Mike Rann, Premier of South Australia was ‘surprised to find, on closer examination, a dozen or so words on page 14 about another inquiry into the book trade. The initiative came from the Commonwealth Treasure via a new group of state and federal officials…’

New Zealand lifted their Parallel Importation restrictions 10 years ago. Want to know what’s ahead for Australia if restrictions are lifted to allow a ‘free-for-all’?

Go to the New Zealand Society of Authors submission to the Australian Productivity Commission – http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/books/submissions

This is what Australia faces in the years ahead.

If you haven’t sent your submission to the Productivity Commission, now is your last chance.

The gloves are off in this debate – I suggest further steps:

  1. Talk or write to your local politician about this issue.
  2. Write to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
  3. Write to the Minister of Arts, Peter Garrett.

If the Productivity Commissions decides in favour of lifting Parallel Imports on Books, I (and many others) will be boycotting the books sold by Dymocks, Myers and Woolworths.

As David Marr says, ‘that’s when the political brawls in defence of the nation’s biggest cultural industry will begin.’

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One thought on “The gloves are off!

  1. Good on you for putting in a submission, Sheryl. It was good to look through the submissions and see so many authors having their say. There are some very thoughtful and intelligent responses to the issue. It scares me that this legislation has been attempted to be pushed through six times – I think it means even if we win we’re going to have to keep on fighting. And they can be assured that we will.

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