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Call for the protection of authors’ copyright over their work and its distribution

Copyright is a way to provide authors with fair monetary remuneration for the use of their work through certain rights. A strong intellectual property (IP) framework including ‘copyright exhaustion’ is an ideal way in which the Government can support UK writers and do it fairly for their contributions to culture. A change to international exhaustion would be detrimental to writers’ ability to earn a living from the sale of their books. This is why we are asking the Government to avoid a radical shift to the exhaustion regime and to maintain the current model.

About the Campaign

The UK Government is currently consulting on an integral part of the IP framework called ‘copyright exhaustion’. They have the power to do so following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Copyright of a book gives the owner certain exclusive rights. This includes the exclusive right to issue copies of the work to the public, known as the ‘distribution right’. The owner can control distribution in terms of the first sale of their book, and ‘exhaustion of rights’ puts some limits on how far that control extends. This right means authors can control where their works are first sold and at what price. It’s crucial for exporting books around the world and ensuring UK authors benefit financially from those sales.

If this framework changes, UK authors could lose any ability through copyright to limit global resale of their books, no matter where they are first sold. Their books could be sold anywhere in the world, at a price that matches that market. For example, currently, books are sold in India at roughly a third of the price that they are in the UK market, so you can imagine how authors could see a rapid decline in income. And this would be happening after authors have faced an incredibly difficult time throughout the pandemic.

We are firmly requesting that the Government maintains the current exhaustion model and avoids a change to an international regime which would be detrimental to authors’ incomes.

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