-says Youngsuk “YS” Chi, the president of the International Publishers Association (IPA) Re-elected for the second two-year consecutive term as the president of the International Publishers Association, (IPA), Youngsuk “YS” Chi (the chairman of Elsevier, USA and director of corporate affairs for Reed Elsevier) has effectively been endeavouring to ensure strong stand for the book publishers communities in appropriately fulfilling their common interests across the world at a time of increasing challenges for the industry. In a conversation with Ajeet Singh from All About Book Publishing, on the sidelines of a seminar in New Delhi, he divulges IPA’s accomplishments during his previous term and goals set to be achieved during the current term while sharing his views on various prevailing issues in the industry. Established in 1896, the International Publishers Association (IPA) is the global non-governmental organisation with a human rights mandate, representing all aspects of book and journal publishing globally. With its mission to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing as a force for cultural and political advancement worldwide, IPA currently has 65 member associations in 53 countries. With the Geneva-based Secretariat (Switzerland), the international umbrella organisation of national publishers associations has now become proactive in an attempt to achieve the common causes of publishers’ communities. IPA liaises with international organisations and lobbies them when new international treaties or other legal instruments are being shaped. To that effect, IPA has official consultative status with United Nations organisations including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). IPA also sets up regular meetings with World Trade Organisation (WTO) staff and delegates, and other international organisations. Apart from regularly organizing international Publishers Congresses and Copyright Symposia, IPA also assists its national member organisations when national laws affecting publishers, in particular copyright laws, are introduced, reviewed or amended.
Youngsuk “YS” Chi received broad support from the IPA General Assembly to be re-elected IPA president for a second and final two-year term, starting on January 01, 2013. After assuming the presidency in January 2011, Chi has overseen the 29th IPA Congress in Cape Town, South Africa; the creation of the Copyright Contingency Fund; the expansion of the Educational Publishers Forum; the revision of IPA’s membership fee structure; and numerous Freedom to Publish campaigns on behalf of publishers including past recipients of the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize Bui Chat of Vietnam and Ragip Zarakolu of Turkey.
“My first term was mostly inward looking for strengthening the organization, but now being honoured to continue representing the global publishing industry for another term when the publishing industry is in the midst of tumultuous change, the focus shall specifically be on outward looking activities, doing leadership regarding how to improve education as well as learning in the world of technology where along with content, technology and appropriate use of content are also equally important,” conveyed Chi, a person of quiet sedate nature and connoisseur of the genre.
“Particularly, my efforts will be focused on the two key issues for the publishing industry today: the transformation from print to digital publishing and building greater understanding of the value publishers bring to society emphasizing on better learning. On this line, we have taken an initiative to organize the IPA International Education Conference,” said Chi. Aiming to enlighten policy makers, content creators and technology providers about how they can all support learners to improve the educational success, the first IPA International Education Conference will take place alongside The London Book Fair on April 17, 2013 at Earls Court, London (UK), under the theme, ‘What Works? Policies, Resources & Technologies for International Educational Success’.
“Ability of publishers to adopt the digital change is today’s major challenge. The publishers need to appropriately understand what to be changed meeting the pace of the changing scenario,” he added, calling the publishers to increasingly make things public letting the content spread all over.
“India is well-positioned to transition to a global intellectual property powerhouse. It is therefore critical that the Indian government supports the creative industries, and ensures that creators are fairly rewarded for their efforts going forward. The protection of intellectual property promotes innovative, open, and competitive markets. This is good for every sector of the economy. When companies—not just publishers—are confident that their ideas and intellectual property will be protected, they have the incentive to pursue advances that push efficiency forward, costs down, and employment up.”
Travelling extensively to participate in IPA member associations, Chi recently visited New Delhi to join a seminar on ‘Legal aspects of the publishing industry’ organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Association of Publishers in India (API). In his key note address at this seminar, Chi conveys that as the world’s largest democracy, India truly is incredible, and its knowledge economy is certainly an important part of the success of that democracy. Indeed, the creative industries are thriving in India. Bollywood is one of the largest film production centers in the world, with its films watched in every corner of the globe. Indian authors such as Anita Desai, Rohinton Mistry, Arundhati Roy and Shashi Tharoor, to name only a very few, are renowned in multiple languages all over the world. The newspaper industry is struggling all over the world, but the Indian press is booming, growing at an annual rate of ten percent. In 2011, Indian researchers published over 91,000 scholarly articles, putting India at 9th in the world in research output. India is well-positioned to transition to a global intellectual property powerhouse. It is therefore critical that the Indian government supports the creative industries, and ensures that creators are fairly rewarded for their efforts going forward. The protection of intellectual property promotes innovative, open, and competitive markets. This is good for every sector of the economy. When companies—not just publishers—are confident that their ideas and intellectual property will be protected, they have the incentive to pursue advances that push efficiency forward, costs down, and employment up.
Speaking about why publishers are important, Chi mentioned that publishers are committed to three things: quality content, authors, and readers. Firstly, with the commitment to quality content, trade publishers seek out and nurture the best authors, while STM publishers manage the peer review process of scholarly discoveries. In the ocean of books and articles available today, publishers provide the orientation and, increasingly, the tools to make sense of the aggregated content. Secondly, with the commitment to authors, publishers provide financial support to authors, paying advances so they can dedicate their lives to writing before the royalties come in. Then publishers take on the administrative task of collecting and distributing royalties, and also never ask for money back. Thirdly, with the commitment to readers, publishers get close to the readers to know, understand, and anticipate their wants and needs. Educational publishers work closely with teachers and students, so that they are aware of and understand their needs to create quality and accessible educational materials. Part of the commitment to readers is also the aim to make content as widely accessible as possible, whether that impediment is economic, physical, or political. To do this, publishers are focusing on real access gaps and working hard to narrow and close these. Publishers are doing this at both the company level and the association level. Chi also gave two examples in this regard: the first is the WIPO TIGAR project, which seeks to improve access for print-disabled persons, particularly in developing countries; and the second is a programme called ‘Research 4Life’ which provides researchers in the developing world access to high-quality information free or nearly free of charge.
“The Digital Age brings many new opportunities, but it does not render copyright law obsolete. On the contrary: as the world has become flatter and smaller, copyright has remained flexible enough to accommodate different markets and business models, allowing innovation and creativity to continue to flourish. Copyright is not only the foundation of the creative industries—it is the foundation of any knowledge economy, and it is essential to the world’s largest democracy,” conveys YS Chi.
Essentiality of copyright…
Talking about why copyright is essential, Chi conveyed that the mechanism that allows publishers to invest in content, authors and readers is copyright. Copyright provides for a protective right for works which ensures an incentive to create, curate, produce, and distribute. Yet in the ‘Digital Age’, there are those who argue that copyright is an obstacle; that it stifles progress. Some people believe that ‘copyright’ and ‘broad access’ are not compatible. They believe that broad access can only be achieved where copyright is weakened. However, copyright is—and will remain—the vehicle which increases access to knowledge through the incentives given to authors and publishers. There needs to be a balance in copyright law between incentives for creativity and investment, and the public good. Increasingly, there are solutions which expand access, such as Creative Commons, which are based on copyright. Express copyright exceptions and limitations also have a role to play, provided they are consistent with the ‘Berne three-step test’, are subject to a real world analysis of the ‘specialness’ of the exception and its impact on market conditions, and otherwise comport with ‘fair practice’.
“So how do we move forward with copyright in the Digital Age? With what I call the three Es: Education, Economics, and Enforcement. By education, I mean explaining what publishers do and why it is still important. That piracy is stealing and hurts the economy, particularly creators. That technology can do many wonderful things, but it is something which complements quality content. It cannot replace that content. This is something publishers certainly need to communicate better, but we need the support of policymakers and the government,” said Chi.
“By economics, I mean that publishers must be able to adopt business models that make content both easily accessible and affordable. There are two things India currently does well to help publishers best serve readers. First, right now, India does not allow parallel imports. Allowing parallel imports would have a profound impact on the way all companies—not just publishers—do business in India. Products not meant for India could be freely imported into the country, as well as freely exported. Territory rights are critical to the way copyright industries do business. Publishers need to be able to make low-priced editions for the Indian market, but we also need to be able to keep those low-priced editions from being exported into other markets. Allowing parallel imports would actually be detrimental to Indian consumers, as it would remove the incentive for copyright owners to do any specific pricing for the Indian market. Second, India does not currently charge VAT on books and there are no custom fees for importing books. This is consistent with VAT/GST regimes around the world. Despite the global economic crisis and the subsequent VAT reforms in many countries, books are consistently among the goods and services that are deemed to merit a special, reduced VAT rate or exemption. There has also been a clear trend towards inclusion of e-books in reduced VAT/GST rates or exemptions. In a developing country like India, where literacy is only 61 percent, it is vital that books continue to be have a zero-rated GST. To tax books is to tax learning,” he explained.
“And, by enforcement, I mean that the government and lawmakers need to work with publishers to punish the most egregious offenders. IPA applauds the strengthening of enforcement in the Copyright Amendment Act of 2012, specifically, ensuring the protection of Technological Protection Measures and Digital Rights Management. It is vital that the government continue to work with publishers and other stakeholders, including technology companies and Internet service providers, to ensure effective enforcement of copyright,” added Chi.
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