The Association of American Publishers' priorities for the year were reflected in the speakers who took part in the organization’s half-day annual meeting held in New York March 14, as well as in its budget. Longtime--and outgoing--AAP treasurer John Sargent told the members that in the new fiscal year AAP has doubled the amount of funds it is committing to fighting digital piracy while also giving a significant jump in funding to its communications unit.
With the defeat of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) as the backdrop, Register of Copyrights in the U.S. Copyright Office Maria Pallante urged publishers to do a better job communicating with the public the importance of copyright protection in the creative process. It was clear in the debate that led to the defeat of SOPA that the general public is confused about the importance of copyright, she said. “A well informed public is important to future copyright debates,” she said. While copyright must respect the interest of the general public, that doesn’t mean the public has a right to unfettered access to content without paying for it, Pallante said.
In thinking about copyright in the future, Pallante said publishers and others need to think about providing meaningful exclusion provisions that will encourage the development of new content. Aligned with that, however, is that there needs to be a way to ensure a “meaningful marketplace” for copyrighted materials. And to help create that market, effective deterrents to piracy need to be put in place, Pallante said.
Panelists on the Content Industries in Digital Transformation panel also touched on the theme of the need for all owners of intellectual property to do a better job engaging the public around the issues of copyright and piracy. Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said that following the SOPA defeat, his organization, at least in the near term, favors working on voluntary agreements with industry intermediators (pay processing companies, ISP, search engines, advertisers) and more educational campaigns rather than moving immediately to new legislation. “We need to engage with customers,” he said. "We just can’t keep saying no.” He noted that after three years, the RIAA had reached agreements with a number of pay processing firms to stop doing business with pirate sites.
Fritz Attaway, executive v-p and special policy advisor to the Motion Picture Association of America, observed that the defeat of SOPA “wasn’t a catastrophe,” noting that even if the bill has passed it would not have solved all of the copyright industry’s problems. Moving forward, Attaway supported the idea that the copyright industries need to do a better job explaining to customers that the creation of quality content depends on them paying a fee for use.
Although the Business Software Alliance did not support SOPA, BSA president Robert Holleyman agreed that copyright owners need to do more to get the public on their side. He noted that while copyright owners are in a good position to defend existing copyright, the SOPA loss could make some in Congress “nervous” about backing legislation without more public support.
Asked by AAP president Tom Allen about global copyright issues, Sherman noted that “nowhere is the world smaller that in intellectual property,” adding that when something happens in Washington they are talking about it the next day in New Zealand. Attaway said that the view of the MPPA is that there is a growing anti-copyright sentiment in Europe and that the U.S. needs to take steps to counter that shift.
Better cooperation between publishes and libraries was the theme of the library panel that featured Molly Raphael, president of the ALA; Jim Neal, v-p, information services and University Librarian, Columbia University; and Dr. Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library. All three said they want to find a way to work with publishers to ensure that their patrons continue to have access to all materials, including e-books. Among her colleagues struggling to meet the demands of their patrons, the hottest issue is e-books, Raphael said. She said the recent meetings with New York houses were beneficial and showed that the ALA needs to work with individual houses to develop solutions that will work in the e-book space. She said noted that a year after HarperCollins was criticized for its 26-lend policy, some librarians believe that the program “may not be so bad.”
Neal and Marx told about the importance of libraries remaining showcases for print books, with Marx noted that libraries will continue to be “bricks and mortar facilities.” Marks said the NYPL "stands ready" to work with any publisher to pilot new e-book programs. "Let's try some things together," he said. Marx said he was willing to cutback on circulating frontlist e-book titles in favor of focusing more on backlist and adding some "friction" to the system that would make it a little bit difficult for patrons to get e-books without leaving home.When challenged on those ideas by Neal, Marx quailified them, saying it was something to think about.