The UK Publishers Association (PA) has urged the government not to "trade away" the key principles that underpin the book trade as the country gears up to leave the EU.
The Publishers Association has released a 10-point blueprint for Brexit to The Bookseller Daily ahead of presenting it at the London Book Fair today (10th April), with the top priority for publishing houses being to maintain access to global talent and ideas. PA chief executive Stephen Lotinga said the UK has been "the world’s publisher" for more than 300 years, adding that the principles that have enabled it to thrive—free access to global talent and ideas, a strong system of intellectual property rights, freedom of speech and freedom to publish—"must not be traded away during negotiations in the broader interests of striking new fair trade agreements [FTAs], either now or after we leave the EU".
The PA warned that the US, China and India have "different approaches" to intellectual property laws than the UK (including copyright and exhaustion of rights) along with independent positions on issues such as freedom of speech, data protection and digital trade, which could be viewed by foreign trade negotiators as "bargaining chips" in future trade discussions.
As such, the PA is demanding the government be "steadfast" in supporting and improving the UK’s Gold Standard copyright framework after Brexit, along with ensuring quality control through "national exhaustion for intellectual property". Maximising publishers’ ability to export to all markets and leading the way on rights enforcement are also important, along with enabling cross-border data flows. Commitment to free speech and freedom to publish is vital to ensuring publishers’ continued success after Brexit, and the PA would also like to see a zero rate of VAT applied on digital publications (e-books have 20% VAT applied, whereas print books have zero), along with "fair online markets".
"Britain has been the world’s publisher for more than 300 years. From Jane Eyre to Harry Potter and from On the Origin of Species to A Brief History of Time, works published in Britain help to shape our national identity and the way others see us around the world— and they underpin our £92bn creative industries sectors here at home," Lotinga said. "Our sector’s success is supported by certain things which enable it to thrive... These must not be traded away."
Lotinga will discuss the blueprint on a panel at LBF today with Baroness Fairhead CBE, minister of state for trade and export promotion at the Department for International Trade; Lis Tribe, group m.d. of Hodder Education and president of the PA; and Miriam González Durántez, co-chair of international trade and government regulation at Dechert LLP. Publishing is one of the UK’s most valuable export sectors, supporting more than 70,000 British jobs and generating a £1.1bn trade surplus annually, the PA claims, with 70% of current exports going outside the EU.
The PA’s 10-point Brexit blueprint
- Maintain access to global talent and ideas
- Support and improve the UK’s Gold Standard copyright framework
- Commit to free speech and freedom to publish
- Maintain a sustainable approach to Open Access policy for research
- Ensure quality control through national exhaustion for IP
- Maximise the country’s ability to export to all markets
- Lead the way on rights enforcement
- Enable cross-border data flows
- Zero rate VAT on e-publications 10 Ensure fair online markets
- Ensure fair online markets
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