Trade bodies write to Government on ‘pressing issue of copyright exhaustion’

Illustration representing the importance of protecting Intellectual property and legal copyright protection — © VectorMine / Adobe Stock
Illustration © VectorMine / Adobe Stock
Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.
The Society of Authors (SoA), Association of Authors' Agents (AAA), Publishers Association (PA) and Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) write to BEIS to stress the importance of maintaining the current copyright regime.

On 21 November, four organisations representing authors and publishers wrote to George Freeman, Minister at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, ‘on behalf of all readers, authors and publishers on the pressing issue of copyright exhaustion.’

As the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) prepares to make a final decision on the future of UK copyright exhaustion, the SoA, AAA, PA and ALCS have urged the Government to maintain the current regime, arguing that ‘a move to an international exhaustion regime would harm the UK economy.’

Read the full letter below or download as a PDF.

Dear Minister,

Uphold UK copyright exhaustion to support UK readers, authors, and publishers

Many congratulations on your reappointment as Minister at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. We are writing to you on behalf of all UK readers, authors, and publishers on the pressing issue of copyright exhaustion.

UK publishing is a global success story. Publishers and their authors together generate £6. 7 billion for the economy, and we export more books than any other country. This success is built on the UK’s gold-standard copyright and intellectual property regime, of which copyright exhaustion is a crucial part. The UK’s current copyright exhaustion regime prevents the unauthorised parallel import of international copies of books to the UK, which safeguards the domestic market, motivates global exports, and protects UK readers, authors, and publishers.

As you know, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) consulted on changes to the UK’s copyright exhaustion regime last year, including considering a move to an ‘international exhaustion regime’. The #SaveOurBooks campaign brought together a broad coalition of readers, authors, publishers, and other creative industries in strong support of retaining the UK’s current regime. The campaign clearly evidenced that the proposed changes would cause a projected loss of up to £2.2 billion to the publishing industry, disincentivise the UK’s thriving book exports, and flood the UK with international copies of books tailored to other international audiences, typically American. As you will recall from your time as IP Minister previously, we were delighted when the government concluded that the current well-functioning regime would be retained. The UK book sector breathed a huge collective sigh of relief.

However, the IPO has since announced its intention to make a final decision on copyright exhaustion. We are writing to you to urge you to continue to maintain the current regime, which underpins the UK’s £6.7 billion publishing sector, including £3.8 billion worth of exports, and is a key part of the UK’s wider £116 billion creative industries. A move to an international exhaustion regime would harm the UK economy, disincentivise UK exports, and be detrimental to British readers.

The UK publishing sector and creative industries are global success stories. As the government looks to build strong and sustainable growth, we ask you to back a UK copyright regime that underpins one of the most dynamic parts of our economy, protects UK industry and exports, and promotes British culture globally.

We look forward to hearing your decision and working together on the ongoing international success of the UK creative industries.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Clarke
President, Association of Authors’ Agents

Dan Conway
Chief Executive, Publishers Association

Barbara Ann Hayes
Deputy Chief Executive, Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society

Nicola Solomon
Chief Executive, Society of Authors

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