Government inquiry recommends change to book protection

The Productivity Commission, the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues, has recommended the removal of the current Parallel Import Restrictions (PIRs) for books. The Commission recommends that repeal should take effect three years after the date that it is announced.

The PIRs form part of Australia’s Copyright Act 1968 and protect publishers and authors who hold the Australian rights to a title from competition by suppliers of foreign editions of that title by restricting booksellers from importing or selling foreign published books.

There are some exemptions, which include individuals being able to order books from foreign sources.

The big retailing chains claim that if the recommendation is adopted by the government, the cost of books in Australia will fall. On the other hand, Australian publishers and independent booksellers claim that their businesses will become uneconomic, and fewer Australian writers willl be published. Time will tell if the Government adopts the recommendation, and if so, what its effect is.