Bloomsbury executive director Richard Charkin says the world’s biggest tech companies need educating about the importance of copyright, and that publishers must talk to them and not "just to each other".
Speaking at the Global Leaders Forum at the International Publishers Congress in New Delhi, Charkin said: “Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon are the five biggest publishers in the world. Our future as publishers is about protecting copyright, but I do not think these five companies see it through the same lens as we do. Our challenge is that in order to protect copyright, we have to educate these five companies and not just talk to each other.”
The big tech companies have been alluded to a number of times at the congress. In a session on Shaping the Future of IP in Publishing, Francis Gurry, the director general of the World International Property Organisation (WIPO), noted how there had been a “disruption in the value chain of creative content [with] a shift in power to distribution platforms which have replaced traditional retail and other distribution channels”.
At the same session Maria Pallante, c.e.o. of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), said: “Those who advocate for weak copyright laws or who seeks to circumvent or appropriate copyrighted works to their own end often do so by citing the public interest. They frame the public interest as though it is separate from the rights of copyright owners or worse yet, that publishers and other copyright owners are an obstacle to progress. This is false. Copyright law and copyright owners are central to the public interest.”
Speaking at a session on Responding to Copyright Challenges on Monday (12th February), Louise Adler, president of the Australian Publishers Association added her view. “Somehow, we copyright creators and producers have not been sufficiently persuasive,” she said. “Consumers feel that knowledge is free, that those who create knowledge and those who disseminate it do not warrant remuneration. Somehow, we have failed to explain why free is not fair. And we have acceded to those behemoths like Amazon whose business models depend on price points that bear no relationship to the cost structures of creating and producing content.”
Previously, in an opening address to the Congress, IPA president Michiel Kolman warned that publishers must shout more about their innovation if they wish to avoid conceding policy direction to the big tech companies.