Books are safe from ‘exhaustion’ - for now
PROPOSALS that could have led to the UK market in books being undermined by imports from even-lower-wage areas have been put on hold. The government announced that "there is not enough data available to understand the economic impact of any of the alternatives to the current UK+ regime." Under that régime copyright in a book is said to be "exhausted" when it is sold in the European Economic Area and "parallel imports" are therefore allowed. "As a result," the government goes on, "it has not been possible to make a decision based on the criteria originally intended. However, the government remains committed to exploring the opportunities which might come from a change to the regime."
This announcement came with the publication of a summary of response to a consultation on the proposals. The summary explicitly references the point made by the NUJ that careless change could impose on authors a "double loss of royalties for creators from (i) a reduction in UK sales due to cheaper parallel imports, e.g. export editions; and (ii) a lower percentage of the price charged for export editions."
Barbara Hayes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), commented: "We’re encouraged by the decision from the IPO not to proceed with any changes to our exhaustion framework in the UK for now. We hope that the government will make a clearer commitment to the creative sector by sticking to the UK+ regime, and move away from a change that would have a significant negative impact on our industry and the authors who work within it. We very much look forward to a firmer decision in due course. Finally, we’re grateful to all ALCS members who made their views clear by writing to their local MPs during the Save Our Books campaign."