Do we have the right to copy?

The publishing industry relies on it; it’s an income stream that we can’t do without. It generates revenue that can be re-invested for innovation and it protects our hard work. So why are so many of us still so unsure about copyright legislation? What is legal and what isn’t, and how can I be sure? How can I gain the right to copy pieces of text? If it’s online, does that make it free? Instead of hiding under the blanket with these questions, Inspired Selection attended a fantastic meeting held by Women In Publishing which stared these questions straight in the face.

Emma House (Director of Publisher Relations at the Publishers Association) and Madeline Pow (International Rights Manager at the CLA) talked us through the issues of copyright and piracy and discussed how we can battle the shared uncertainty that we have about the matter. As with any uncertainty, the most effective solution will be Education; as a public, we need to be educated about the dangers and the importance of copyright. The film industry has managed to do it well with trailers before the film starts in the cinema warning us against piracy but it may be difficult to replicate this in the publishing industry. Following the Hargreaves report in 2011, the UK Government is launching a website for this purpose which acts as a one stop shop for businesses and individuals to find everything they need to know about copyright.

Emma explained to us the key drivers that motivate copyright infringement and neatly brought these into three areas: cost, convenience and speed. The sad fact of the matter is that many of us a) prioritise these motivators over quality and legitimacy and b) that illegitimate content is cheaper, easier and quicker, or at least seems so, than legitimate content. With this in mind, publishers need to make sure that they’re delivering content with the consumer in mind and thinking about how the consumer is going to want to engage with the content. We need to create products that mean that there is little motivation for copyright infringement.

The Publishers Association and the CLA are not only fighting the battle against copyright infringement in the UK but are also tackling piracy overseas. The challenge with this is that other governments may have different priorities but these fantastic organisations are teaming up with parallel bodies in other countries to get right behind the problem to those printing the material, rather than targeting the symptom, in this case the consumer.

Without enforcement of copyright the publishing industry would be vulnerable and wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. So next time you’re reading something online, or looking at copies of Harry Potter being sold when on holiday, think about the industry that we’re all in and we all love and question where you’re money is going.

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