Writers are at risk from post-Brexit reform of book sale rules, author Hilary Mantel warns
- New rules could flood British market with cheap imports and threaten revenues
- Up to 64% of book earnings could be affected – equivalent of £2.2billion per year
- Authors Dame Hilary Mantel and William Boyd are warning of risks to UK writers
The book industry and the livelihoods of writers are at risk from potential post-Brexit changes to copyright rules, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd have warned.
The authors are concerned by new sales rules being considered by ministers following the UK’s departure from the European Union.
It is thought these could flood the British market with cheap imports, and threaten up to 64 per cent of book revenue – £2.2billion a year.
The author of Any Human Heart, Mr Boyd, said it was ‘utterly disgraceful’ that the Government might ‘seek to undermine’ the ‘conventions that guard copyright’.
Miss Mantel, author of Wolf Hall, pointed to the importance of copyright when ‘most writers live and earn precariously’.
Book rights are currently sold in a way that allows publishers to sell titles at different prices in different territories.
But a consultation, which ends today, is considering a so-called ‘international exhaustion regime’.
The author of Any Human Heart, William Boyd (pictured), said it was ‘utterly disgraceful’ that the Government might ‘seek to undermine’ the ‘conventions that guard copyright’
This would see publishers no longer able to sell certain books exclusively in the UK, allowing internet retailers to import the same titles and sell them more cheaply.
The Independent has reported that figures from the Publishers’ Association show that up to 64 per cent of book revenue, or £2.2 billion per year, is at stake if the new system came in.
Miss Mantel said: ‘Most writers live and earn precariously, even with the protections now in place.’
She added: ‘Their original creative work, however humbly rewarded, underlies a major industry and feeds our cultural life as a nation.
‘This is not the time to strip away protection to their livelihood.’
Mr Boyd said: ‘This attempt to deny, or subvert, or water down these hard-fought for rights of intellectual property must be adamantly opposed.
Dame Hilary Mantel (pictured) pointed to the importance of copyright when ‘most writers live and earn precariously’
‘It will be a covert licence for piracy and theft. Shame on any politician who advocates the opposite.’
A Government spokesman told The Independent: ‘The UK now has the regulatory freedom to choose our own exhaustion of IP rights regime, which is why we are conducting a consultation to consider and assess which option best serves the UK interests.
‘Any decision to change the current system would be based on the evidence arising from the consultation, and we welcome views from all businesses, including publishers, as well as civil society groups and consumers.’
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