IPA’s Kolman talks copyright and freedom to publish in China's Chengdu

IPA’s Kolman talks copyright and freedom to publish in China's Chengdu

International Publishers Association president Michiel Kolman has spoken of his organisation's role in lobbying for "robust copyright frameworks and freedom to publish protections” in a speech given in the Chinese city of Chengdu on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day (23rd April).

"My vision for the IPA is of a strategic organization working for and with a strong, cohesive, engaged membership. We're building on our interactions with the UN agencies in Geneva, in particular the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the UN Human Rights Council," Kolman said.

The Elsevier publisher told the Reading Promotion Summit at South West Jiao Tong University that the IPA also promoted literacy and accessibility initiatives and made the case for professional book and journal publishing everywhere.

The admission of China to the IPA in 2015 proved a controversial one among its membership, on freedom of expression grounds. But Kolman told his audience that the organisation "enjoys a good relationship with the Publishers Association of China,” saying the development was “an important step forward” for the IPA, because the PAC is a "powerful" voice in world publishing. "The IPA now represents publishers that service around 5.6 billion people worldwide - that's 75% of the wrold population. This means our members' collective voice today carries further and speaks for more publishers than ever before."

Chinese publishing is now a $10bn concern, second only to the US in market value, and the world leader in the production of new titles, bringing out 470,000 new titles in 2015, Kolman said.

"But in reality, publishing is about much more than commerce," he noted. "I see publishing as a motor of human and social progress first and a commercial endeavour second. There is no more time-honoured and successful way of curating, expressing and preserving ideas, stories, opinions, beliefs and facts...And China's part in this narrative goes way, way back."

The Dutch publisher also raised the possibility that Chengdu might itself become a UNESCO World Book Capital city in the future. This year the World Book Capital is Conakry in Guinea, and in 2018 it will be Athens, Greece.