The Association of American Publishers marked its 50th anniversary with a 90-minute virtual annual meeting on June 1 that touched on the changes that have taken place in recent years as the organization has scaled back some of its operations and refocused its priorities.

Macmillan CEO and AAP chair John Sargent said that, since its inception, the AAP “has taken on every copyright issue,” from an early case against Kinko’s Graphics in which the AAP won an agreement from the company to stop copy textbooks to create unauthorized college course packs to the infringement lawsuit filed against the Internet Archive earlier that day. Without the AAP, Sargent said, copyright would not look like it does today.

Sargent did a quick review of the changes the AAP has implemented over the last three years, after it reviewed its financial situation and decided that moving forward the organization’s priorities would be on copyright protection and other policy issues. Sargent credited Maria Pallante, who became CEO in 2017, with doing a "remarkable" job in implementing the new vision. Sargent said he was honored to be leading the organization “in this particular industry and in this particular time.” He said the membership has a “like-minded point of view” on the major topics facing the industry, and he thanked member companies, both large and small, for their support.

Jeremey North of Taylor & Francis, the AAP treasurer, also spoke of AAP’s commitment to financial responsibility, noting the organization has a “clarity of purpose” with the law and policy being the common issues that unite member companies. North said that, while AAP has a lean budget, the budget isn’t so lean as to prevent it from achieving its objectives.

When she took her turn in the Zoom spotlight, Pallante said that bringing a lawsuit against IA wasn’t something “that was taken lightly.” She noted that IA’s actions have been much discussed by publishers, and said that it was clear IA’s behavior “belongs in court.” Pallante also cited the success the AAP had in blocking Audible’s proposed Caption program, which planned to transcribe a book’s audio in order to create text that will run along with the audio. Pallante noted that she was especially pleased the AAP was able to extend the agreement to cover all members, not just the seven publishers that took part in the suit.

On tariffs, Pallante said that, having helped prevent tariffs from being placed on religion books and on most children’s titles manufactured in China, AAP continues to “keep an ear to the ground” on any developments regarding changes in tariff policy. She noted that some AAP members have begun looking for long-term printing options outside of China.

The meeting closed with a keynote speech by Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, and this year’s recipient of the AAP’s 2020 Award for Distinguished Public Service.