Copyright amendment could derail Indian publishing: Industry

New Delhi : Authors and top publishers Wednesday launched a countrywide signature campaign against the proposed Copyright Amendment Bill 2010, which, they feared, could endanger Indian publishing.

They are worried that the amendment would remove restrictions on their territorial rights and allow easy import of cheaper and pirated versions of books. This could put specially-priced Indian editions of foreign books under siege, the campaigners feel.

Leading writers and publishers said the government’s intention to amend the act is primarily to benefit the Indian movie industry that falls under the purview of creative industry. But it will adversely affect the Indian publishing and print industry, they claimed.

A top delegation from the publishing industry will this week submit a petition to union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal to highlight the impact of the proposed amendment.

Addressing the media in the capital Wednesday, the Association of Publishers in India and the Federation of Indian Publishers said one of the contentious changes relates to the elimination of territorial rights for book content as it exists today.

“An author assigns exclusive publishing rights to different publishers in different territories based on what is the best solution for the book in the territory,” Sanjiv Goswami, president of the Association of Publishers in India, said.

“But the amendment will undo these divisions and make India an open market where books can be dumped with complete disregard to the copyrights holders’ wishes,” he cautioned.

He also claimed that books are already low priced in India, but can still be undermined by clearance sales from other markets which will destroy existing sales structures with benefit to no one.

Writer Gurcharan Das said that “the government had probably overlooked the implications of the amendment on the publishing industry in its attempt to create a free-trade ambience”.

Author William Dalrymple said that the amendment “could make the country a haven for pirated books”.

Publisher and editor-in-chief of Harper-Collins India V.K. Karthika told IANS: “We had fought for a long time to put an Indian publishing mechanism in place separately and got agents abroad to take care of rights of authors and publishers and create separate editions. The amendment could change the system.”

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