Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Copyrights Elsewhere

If, as an American, you’ve assumed that the publishing rules are the same all over the world as they are here, you’ll want to read an article in The Sydney Morning Herald called “Revoke the Rules and Help Book Pirates.”

It starts off by talking about the book industry in India:
It is a free-marketer's nirvana. India for books is what Thailand is for CDs - a land of piracy. For what you would pay for one Rushdie book in Australia, in India you could get his entire oeuvre.
Then goes into what it’s like in Australia.
We have a separate copyright territory. If a book is written, designed, edited and published by Australians - as is about $900 million worth of books sold in Australia annually - an overseas publisher cannot sell an edition of it here. If it is produced overseas, Australian publishers must publish it here within 30 days of its foreign release, or it can be "parallel-imported" to Australia. If it is out of stock, the publisher has 90 days to replenish it. This "use it or lose it" principle is commonly called the 30/90 rule.
Definitely an interesting article for those, like me, who know little about how it works in other countries. Malcolm Knox, the author of the piece, ends with:
Lifting the restriction on parallel importation would not send us immediately into a copyright free-fire zone like India. But there are plenty cautionary tales about unregulated markets right now and, unlike finance and banking, our cultural industries do not sprout again in a few years. Once second-hand, a culture remains second-hand for a long time. Ask the Indians.
I think most American authors would agree with me when I say, copyrights are important. And in this age of the Internet, copyrights are being challenged even here in the states.


  1. I have enough trouble figuring out our own laws. I should be so lucky that someone in another country would want to steal my work. Great publicity.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Ah, Morgan, you made me laugh this morning.

    Copyrights & trademarks are important to protect, though. (And I know you recognize that - you are very savvy.) The company I co-own is trademarked and we have a firm that keeps tabs on it. A writer's work, basically his or her company, has to be protected, as well.

  3. Wow, coming to this blog was good timing on my part.

    I just received requests from two bloggers in India for a copy of my new book to review. It was odd how they came at once, and now I'm wondering....pirates???

    Maybe not, maybe they are just bloggers, but now I'll certainly do more research.


  4. Jan, I hope they're legitimate! Let us know what you find out.

  5. Speaking of copyrights, I rejected a book contract today because it called for my contract to extend until the end of the book's copyright, which I believe is 75 years plus. Some publishers ask for the moon and probably think that writers are so eager to sign that they don't even read the contract.

  6. Good gracious Jean. We all should take that as a cautionary tale -- read your contract & if you don't understand something, talk to an expert or someone who does understand.

  7. Morgan,
    If you figure how to understand our laws, let us all know!

  8. Joan U. Hall1/15/2009 11:40 AM

    Hope they're legitimate reviewers. Like Helen, I too would like to know how you fare.

  9. Jean,
    You're right. Too often writers are too excited about a contract to realize what they're signing.
    That book took too long to give away all your rights.


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