QLD SCBWI fights for Creators Rights

Report on the Productivity Commission’s Hearing into the Publishing Industry

by Sheryl Gwyther, Brisbane

Children’s book creators were amongst those who attended the Productivity Commission’s Hearing in Brisbane on June 20, 2016. Morris Gleitzman, Sheryl Gwyther, Michael Gerard Bauer, Angela Sunde, Candice Lemon-Scott, Christine Bongers, Melanie Hill, Caroline Magerl, Dimity Powell, Pamela Rushby, and Sam Sochacka represented the children’s and YA book creators.  Morris, Sheryl, Michael, Angela, Candice, Christine, Melanie and Isobelle Carmody (written) all made presentations to the Commission, in that order. 

The Commissioners insisted they were not instructed to examine the reduction copyright terms to 15 – 25 years. But, they are examining the removal of territorial copyright, and the so-called ‘FAIR USE’ exception to copyright that is in use in the U.S. This policy has widely disadvantaged authors, artists, musicians and other creatives overseas. It destroys the principle what we own what we create. We argued against it.

But the most significant issue for our book industry as a whole is the Productivity Commission’s instructions from the Turnbull government to investigate the TRANSITION towards lifting the Restrictions against Parallel Importation of books.

Many of us fought this same issue in 2009 because we believed it would dump foreign-published Australian-authored books into Australia, flooding the market with cheaper, foreign editions – books that have been altered in spelling, expression, idiom, landscape, ideas and thoughts. In 2009, we, the authors, publishers, printers and the book-loving community who fought against it, won that battle. We did not win the war!

This time,  without it being debated in Parliament first; without inviting the stakeholders to take part in any discussion on whether the Restrictions should be lifted or not, the Government is enforcing the lifting of Restrictions against Parallel Importation.

The battle is not lost until we give up. If you believe in our industry and the future of Australian-published books, if you believe in the very best Australian books for Australian children, there is no room for complacency. We do not have the luxury of time. You know what to do.