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Meeting the threats to freedom of publishing head-on

The International Publishers Association (IPA) exists for two main reasons: to protect copyright wherever it is threatened (and it is under threat from many directions with many motives) and to support our members and the industry against restrictions on freedom to publish. There would be no recognizable freedom to publish without a vibrant industry, and that depends on copyright. Our two responsibilities are inextricably intertwined.

I want to focus on the second of these, which came under the spotlight with the expansion of our membership at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, and included publishers’ associations from some countries with inglorious track records on freedom to publish. There are those who feel that we should exclude these associations until they can show tangible evidence of progress. Others feel that it is our duty to engage with them as closely and as soon as possible to help our publisher colleagues in these countries. This latter course is the one we at IPA are following.

We cannot claim that our activities have been able to halt the abhorrent activities of some governments, but we have been able to highlight their activities and the importance of publishing to economic, social and cultural development. We hope this leads to a more liberal future.

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