APPG for Publishing calls on Government to protect and respect gold-standard copyright regime

AcademicConsumerEducationPress Release

The Government should make protecting the UK’s gold-standard copyright regime a top priority. Intellectual Property laws that are fit for purpose must be pre-requisites for all future UK trade deals, finds a report released today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Publishing.

The APPG, chaired by Andrew Lewer MBE MP, makes a number of key recommendations for maintaining a world-leading publishing sector in the report. These include removing the 20% VAT on digital publications, to promote literacy and equal access to books, and creating a balanced Open Access.

The report, Maintaining a World-Leading Publishing Sector, is the outcome of an inquiry by the APPG. This aimed to assess the benefits that publishers and booksellers from all disciplines bring to the UK, whilst also evaluating the potential risks that may affect the success of the industry over the coming years.

Key recommendations made in the report are:

  • Promote literacy and equal access to books by removing the 20% VAT on digital publications.
  • Maintain and extend fair market opportunities for the publishing industry by incentivising digital platforms to take responsibility in preventing the sale of illegal goods on their sites and continuing to cut business rates for independent booksellers.
  • Protect and respect the UK’s gold-standard copyright regime.
  • Create a balanced Open Access policy.
  • Ensure all students learn from high-quality resources by ending austerity in schools and supporting a competitive market for education resources.

Andrew Lewer MBE MP, Chair of the APPG for Publishing, said: “The value of the UK’s publishing industry is £6 billion, of which exports account for £3.5 billion. The UK exports more physical books than any other country in the world. Publishing accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in the UK’s creative industries.

“It is imperative that the contribution the publishing industry makes to the UK – and the world – is truly recognised in Westminster and Whitehall. The APPG for Publishing now calls on the Government to advance the policy recommendations required for the UK’s book industry to thrive long into the future.”

Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association said: “This welcome report highlights the importance of publishing and offers achievable recommendations to ensure the continued success of the UK publishing industry. A vibrant publishing industry is key in encouraging literacy and social mobility so it should be a top priority for the Government.”

The report states that the UK’s copyright provisions currently ensure authors and publishers are fairly remunerated for their work and creativity. The Government must now do more to ensure those rules are understood, respected and enforced. The APPG also stress that National or EU exhaustion rules are critical to publishing exports. The ability to sell books in foreign markets at different prices, without the fear of having unauthorised copies being resold into the UK, is vital if the UK is to remain a major publishing exporter.

The APPG also believes that the Government could help boost literacy among both children and adults by removing VAT on digital publications, including ebooks and audiobooks. Evidence gathered during the inquiry has suggested that ebooks and audiobooks could offer a route into reading for those children who are unlikely to pick up a printed book.

National Literacy Trust research found that over 45% of children prefer to read on a

digital device and young people on free school meals are more likely to read digitally than their more advantaged peers. Ebooks, alongside other reading interventions, could help to address gaps between less keen or able readers and their peers. As such, contributors argued that the Government must remove any barriers that penalise young readers for the format that they favour.

The Maintaining a World-Leading Publishing Sector report is being released as part of Publishers in Parliament Day which takes place on 3 March 2020. This is a celebration of Publishing, in Parliament. A delegation of publishers will be meeting with parliamentarians to discuss opportunities for one of the UK’s biggest creative industries.