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LBF: Governments must listen on copyright defence
01.01.70 | Katie Allen
The industry must make a stronger case to government for strengthening safeguards on copyright, with the protection of authors at its heart, said senior international publishers speaking at London Book Fair's 40th anniversary keynote seminar.
Penguin Group c.e.o. John Makinson said publishing had been "slow . . . and not well enough co-ordinated, nationally and internationally" in putting its case across. "Books as digital products have been left to one side of intellectual property reviews and we have had to barge our way in," he said. "The playing field is not level. We have two people on government relations, Google has around 500 people working on government relations—their voice gets heard." Makinson said he was "more concerned about government than pirates". He added: "We have to raise our game and articulate a more forceful case for the defence of copyright."
Y S Chi, president of the International Publishers Association and Elsevier science and technology c.e.o., said copyright protects the interests of authors, and it is important to publishers because they serve the authors, rather than to protect their business model. Publishers must not just leave it to their associations to take up the cause, he argued, saying: "It is for publishers to do it, not to delegate it out."
HarperCollins president Brian Murray said he was "confident" that new draft legislation in the US to improve the protection of copyright would be passed in the next two years because of widespread support. But he added: "The industry needs to do more in terms of education on why it is important to protect copyright. The perception is that it's about protecting Hollywood—we need to make the argument that it is about protecting authors. We need to do a better job to convince government."
Meanwhile Li Pengyi, president of China Education Publishing and Media Group, told fair delegates that publishers' core strength could not be duplicated by technology companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google and China Telecom. "Because they are technology-driven companies they have taken an advantageous position, but these companies have a relatively weak capability to process content," he said. "This is where the strength of traditional publishers lies. Google can be compared to a library with a colossal amount of books. Publishers can be compared to talented librarians."