About the Campaign
Following our departure from the European Union, the UK government has recently consulted on a change to the UK intellectual property framework which could have wide-ranging impacts for UK authors, publishers and the wider book sector.
You’ve probably never heard of it, but this change is to something called the UK’s “exhaustion regime”, which sets the rules for parallel imports of IP-protected goods into the UK. The current exhaustion regime allows UK authors and publishers to price appropriately for international markets and stops the unauthorised importing of international (non-EEA) copies of books into the UK, undercutting the domestic market. This copyright protection is crucial for UK authors selling their works abroad.
If the IPO consultation decides to remove any copyright border for parallel imports into the UK, in what is termed an “international exhaustion regime”, authors will not be able to stop copies of their books from around the world being sold in the UK. This will erode domestic sales where the majority of UK author income comes from. In light of the difficulties authors have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this would be disastrous.
If the government introduces the wrong framework, this decision could:
Significantly harm author incomes.
Prompt a relocation of publishing away from the UK.
Further support online retail giants and damage the already suffering British high street.
We urge the government to avoid a radical shift to the way the book industry operates, avoiding an international regime and maintaining the current exhaustion model.