Piracy fight must be "ramped up" - PA a.g.m.

The Publishers Association must escalate the fight against piracy and use authors to press the case against copyright theft, members of the association heard at the annual general meeting.

Incoming PA president Little, Brown chief executive Ursula Mackenzie said the PA needed to "ramp up" the fight against piracy "or to give it another name, theft", and use authors to explain to consumers the amount of work that goes into the creation of published books. She said the association needed to further highlight the issue of having VAT on digital books, which drew an "absurd" distinction between the delivery formats: printed books are zero rated, while digital books attract the full 20% rate.

She also said the PA would continue to urge—where appropriate—the Competition Commission to look into the issue of retailer dominance. "We must do what we can to convince them that in the long term this [situation] is not in the best interests of the consumer."

In his outgoing speech made at the a.g.m. president Rod Bristow, of Pearson UK, stressed the tough market conditions that have now prevailed for a number of years, but said he was confident publishers could meet them. "I am not sure that repetition alone does justice to the nature of the challenge or the opportunity that this industry faces." Adding: "This is a time like no other; but it is not a time to retreat and retrench. Rather the reverse, it is the time for creativity and confidence to shine through."

At the a.g.m. Nick Fowler, director of strategy at Elsevier, was made PA vice-president, with Penguin UK chief executive Tom Weldon joining the committee. The PA's annual accounts showed that it recorded a surplus of £22,000 in 2011. It spent £196,000 on anti-piracy measures over the year.