Published by Melbourne University Press on 2016
#SaveOzStories is a gift to book lovers from Australia’s finest writers and the industry that supports them. Jackie French, David Malouf, Tim Winton and many more of our best writers have come together to issue a clarion call to all Australian citizens to defend writers and writing. If politicians have their way we will be the only nation to give away our right to tell our own stories. If you think a world without the next Richard Flanagan, Andy Griffiths or Monica McInerney will be a poorer one, then read this collection of impassioned arguments from our most esteemed wordsmiths.
This book is brilliant. It explains what Parallel Importation Rules are and details why need to keep them as they are. It also talks about the copyright rules and why we need to have copyright extend beyond the author’s death. I scribbled a few words about Parallel Importation Rules (PIR) back in 2012 without mentioning whether I was for or against as I was still thinking about it at the time. In my article I’ve linked to Bookthingo’s blog which gives a lot of links so have a wander and educate yourself.
Back in 2012 I considered myself a blogger and seller of pre-loved books online, I didn’t consider that I’d actually get into writing myself. Now that I’m an emerging writer I find it interesting how my thoughts have clarified on this situation.
Parallel Importation Rules
I’m grateful the government decided not to changed the PIR, it took them several years but I feel it’s a good thing. Some authors in this book talk about how if PIR were changed then their income would drop, drastically. Their books would then be published either in the UK or the US and be imported into Australia. This part is fine but as the books would be imported they would be paid less. Others talked about if the decisions for which author to publish were made overseas then Australian stories would be reduced. Chloe Hopper illustrated this graphically with her piece titled ‘Suggested Edits: 2017’. She’s written an article about boxing between Indigenous people. In this article she’s included some edits suggested by the editor. These edits take out absolutely all of the local colour and local information, in essence, deleting any possible Australianness, deleting our own stories. It was very moving.
I find myself agreeing with all of these authors. If the PIR had been put in place then the chances of me becoming a published author using a traditional publisher are very, very unlikely. Not only that but I’d be lucky to receive much money at all. Traditional publishers are careful which new authors they sign up as they want to ensure they get authors they expect will actually be able to make them enough money in the end. If PIR had been put into place the publishers would have to want to be that much more careful in choosing authors to sign contracts as it would be much harder for them to make money.
What do you get from reading this book?
So much good stuff. Where else can you get 23 top notch articles from 23 so very different authors? They approached the two ideas of PIR and copyright using their own writing styles. Some of them have a rather academic style and that’s good as that reaches the academics. Others approached their thoughts by writing a letter to the government. They all show us how much they love and appreciate the publishing industry. How many opportunities they’ve been provided. How the publishers took a punt on them and how they now expect to give back to the industry, in part by earning well so the publishers can afford to take a punt on other emerging authors.
I very much appreciate this last point. It means that I only have to be good enough and the publishers might take a chance on me. If they do I will then copy some of these authors and do everything the publishers need me to do in order to get into the public eye. If they need me to travel the country and attend book fairs, bookshops, writer’s festivals then I will do so. If they need me to be very active on social media then I will do that as well.
Back to the issue of copyright
If I understand the Copyright Act (1968) correctly then a written work is copyright to the author for 70 years after the author’s death. This means that any monies made after the death of the author goes to the author’s estate. In this case it means my children. If the government had decided to take the Productivity Commission’s draft report and put it into action then copyright would have stopped 15 to 25 years after publication. This means that Isobelle Carmody’s first book Obernewtyn would be out of copyright already and any further publications of this title would not earn her any money. In fact, any of her books written before 1994 (her first four titles) would not earn her any money.
Most authors earn very little. Numbers mentioned in the articles in this book include $12,900 per year. Carmody is one of the few who earn enough to keep them in house and home. If the copyright changes had come into effect she’d be earning much less and would have to work doubly hard to ensure she had enough to cover bills.
Why were the government considering changing the PIR and copyright rules? Changing PIR is said to reduce the price of books. It hasn’t done that in New Zealand. All it’s done is made it very hard for authors and publishers. It’s not PIR that keeps the price of books as high as it is but complex market forces including the size of the population here. It seems the government wanted to encourage reading and that is admirable but not when it would have the backlash of reducing us to mere rubble as it would do.
Do I suggest you track down this book?
Yes, and yes. It’s fabulous to see so many excellent authors writing with such passion. With just one little book you get 23 different authors. This book illustrates why I love anthologies so much. But you should also read their words on this matter, they’re so much better than I am. It will be hard to track down the book as it wasn’t sold anywhere. I found it in an op shop but I have no idea where else it would be found. In that case here are some details which will give you more information than I could ever reproduce.
Hashtags: @bookscreate @copyrightmatters @Ozbooks