“We need to work together to support Freedom to Publish”

says IPA Vice President Gvantsa Jobava in conversation with All About Book Publishing.

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Gvantsa Jobava is Vice President at International Publishers Association. She is also the Editor/International Relations Manager of Intelekti Publishing, a publishing house known widely for its published books for Georgian and non-Georgian schools.Every year,Intelekti publishes more than 300 books, which include fiction and documentary prose, classical and modern poetry and prose, academic and scientific literature translated from other languages.

Freedom to Publish’ is a fundamental subset of freedom of expression. It’s a prerequisite for a thriving publishing industry, which is itself an essential part of a democratic society and a basis for a knowledge economy.

International Publishers Association (IPA) upholds and defends the right of publishers to publish and distribute the works of the mind in complete freedom, provided that in doing so they respect all legal rights. In talk with All About Book Publishing, Gvantsa Jobava, Vice President, International Publishers Association (IPA), says, “We at IPA have an objective on Freedom to Publish to protect the association members across the globe.”

She adds, “We stand together for the writers and publishers who together can strengthen the Freedom to Publish with their respective governments in their countries. Quite often, we have seen the ‘Freedom to Publish’ is still under attack even in the 21st century. Our fellow publishers and writers are sent to custody for unreasonable causes. It’s the duty of IPA to oppose steadfastly any attempt or threat to restrict that freedom.”

IPA Prix Voltaire…

“As the protection and promotion of ‘Freedom to Publish’ is one of IPA’s key objectives, in 2005 IPA introduced the‘Freedom to Publish’ prize to honour a person or organization adjudged to have made a significant contribution to the defence and promotion of freedom to publish in the world. It was renamed in 2016 as IPA Prix Voltaire, in tribute to the French philosopher and writer François-Marie Arouet (penname Voltaire),” tells Gvantsa. The IPA 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire ceremony will take place at the World Expression Forum (WEXFO, 22-23 May 2023) in Lillehammer, Norway.

On Copyright…

When it comes to ‘Copyright’, the IPA promotes and protects by all lawful means the principles of copyright on which depend the encouragement of authorship, publishing and dissemination of creative works. “We defend copyright against all infringements which may restrict the rights of authors and publishers. The IPA promotes literacy, accessibility, diversity and inclusion. Moreover, we promote and represent publishing globally as an essential cultural sector and a significant creative industry,” mentions Gvantsa.

How IPA works…

“We have several committees, viz. Copyright Committee, Educational Publishers Committee, Freedom to Publish Committee, etc. which work productively globally. We have regular sessions on different topics which are relevant and needed at a particular time. Our members from different committees actively support and work with government of different countries where human rights are at threat. One of our recent Freedom to Publish online sessions was with different members from the Publishing ecosystem and Educational Publishers Forum from Ukraine on how war has affected education and freedom to publish. IPA has compiled recommendations of how we can help our Ukrainian colleagues. This is how we help the international communities,” asserts Gvantsa.

Message to the publishing community…

“We need to work together to support Freedom to Publish, be brave, find courage and support each other in this endeavour,” shares Gvantsa.


IPA concerned about missing Egyptian Publisher

Ahmed Mahmoud Ibrahim, known as Ahmed Diouf, was in Riyadh from late September to early October 2022 to participate in the Riyadh International Book Fair. He was arrested by the Saudi Police at the Kotopia booth on 8th October. Despite enquiries from both Kotopia and IPA, there were no news on his status or whereabouts since. IPA appealed to the Saudi authorities for information about the reasons for Ahmed Diouf’s detention and any possible charges he faces. He has now been released.


2023 IPA Prix Voltaire Shortlist!

At London Book Fair, following a freedom to publish session dedicated to strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPPs) and the role of publishers in guaranteeing freedom of expression of authors, the IPA announced its 5-strong shortlist for the 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire: Mazen Lateef Ali, Iraq; Gün????? Kitapl??? Publishing House, Turkey; Mehr Husain, Pakistan; Ahmed Mahmoud Ibrahim Ahmed, Egypt; and Mercier Press, Ireland..

Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said, “Publishers play a vital role in guaranteeing the freedom of expression of authors. This year’s 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire shortlist is a testament to publishers who put themselves at risk to publish the works of others and contribute to our societies by ensuring readers have access to multiple voices and perspectives.”

The laureate will be announced at the World Expression Forum (WEXFO) in Lillehammer, Norway on May 22, 2023.


We need books, not bans!

On the occasion of Istanbul International Book Fair in December 2022, the Turkish Publishers Association joined other organisations in launching a campaign called ‘Don’t Touch My Book’ #kitab?madokunma.

The launch statement read:In our country, more and more books are being taken away from readers, withheld and made inaccessible. Publishers, authors, translators and printing houses are being investigated and prosecuted for the content of books. Decisions to confiscate, ban or put books in plastic bags are rapidly increasing. We should have access to books wherever we go, from school to library, from bookstore to university. No institution or person can take away our right to choose and read books. The fiction of writers, the visual expression of artists and the richness of language cannot be banned or interfered with.

As all book lovers, IPA stood against the banning mindset and said:DON’T TOUCH MY BOOK!


IPA welcomed release of Egyptian publisher following completion of prison term

2019 IPA Prix Voltaire laureate, Khaled Lotfy, completed his five-year prison sentence and returned home on 19 November, 2022. Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said, “It is so unfair, what Khaled has had to endure. We wish him all the best as he is re-united with his family and looks to the future. We hope that the Egyptian government can build on positive announcements and improve the freedom of expression situation through clear legislative changes that ensure people are not imprisoned for what they write or publish.”


Anti-SLAPP protections to defend media freedom in UK

A model anti-SLAPP Law drafted in November 2022 in consultation with leading media lawyers and industry experts on behalf of the UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition and supported by over 70 leading editors, lawyers, publishers, and journalists was sent to the Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab. The model law outlines how best the UK Government can make good on its commitment made in July to reform the law to introduce robust anti-SLAPP measures and protect those holding the powerful to account.

Signatories to the letter called on the UK Government to put forward legislation in line with the model UK Anti-SLAPP Law include senior editors from leading UK newspapers and media outlets, prominent journalists, publishers, lawyers and experts; Book sector signatories include: Joanna Prior, CEO of Macmillan Publishers International Limited; LLP; Arabella Pike, Publishing Director, HarperCollins Publishers; and Catherine Belton, journalist and author of the book Putin’s People, The Publishers Association and the International Publishers Association.

High-profile cases – such as those targeting Catherine Belton, Tom Burgis, Elliot Higgins, and more recently openDemocracy and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism – are just the most visible manifestation of a much broader problem which has affected newspapers across Fleet Street and the wider UK media industry for many years. The model Law addresses this problem by including important amendments to the Ministry of Justice’s framework, such as a robust filter mechanism that empowers courts to swiftly dispose of SLAPPs; penalties that are sufficient to deter the use of SLAPPs and provide full compensation to those targeted; and protective measures for SLAPP victims including cost protections and other important safeguards.

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