Copyright law change ‘could devastate author incomes’

June 2021:  An alliance of organisations including the Publishers Association and Society of Authors has launched a campaign warning of a “potentially devastating” change to the UK’s copyright laws, The Bookseller reports.

The Save Our Books campaign, also backed by the Association of Authors’ Agents and the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society, says government plans to reconsider the UK’s approach to copyright and trade following Brexit could lead to fewer books and fewer authors.

The Intellectual Property Office launched a consultation on June 7 which considers a weakening of copyright rules used for exporting books around the world. Changing the way these rules, known as copyright exhaustion, work would present “serious dangers for the health of the books industry”, the campaign argues.

It says that, because author royalties on export sales are much lower than in the UK market, if authors cannot prevent their copies from around the world being sold back into the UK, an export sale risks eroding the corresponding domestic sale. Approximately two-thirds of author incomes could be at risk on the sale of a book in this scenario, the campaign claims.

  • Waterstones profits sank by 8.4% in the 12 months to April 2020, according to latest figures