Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Defence of Indian Publishing II: Vinutha Mallya, Mapin India



In response to my questions to the soliloquy posted yesterday, the author of the blog, an IP lawyer made some more remarks that deserved attention: You can find his response on his blogpost: http://originalfakes.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/in-praise-of-folly/




This is my rebuttal:

Prashant, once you get over your misplaced notion that there is a neo-colonial conspiracy here, you might actually bother to make an effort at understanding the unique economics of publishing. Despite your commendation for my “candor” and your remonstration of what a “na├»ve job” I was doing, I will allow the readers of your blog (presumably there are some) to judge the merits of what is being said. Hopefully they will also judge which one of us is being “sanctimonious”. It would also do you good to examine how you write, so as to save yourself from feeling any ludicrousness. I am listing a few facts that should address the highlights instead of wasting my breath on a repartee:

1. About 30% to 40% of publishing activity in India is in English. So English is very much the single language in which most publishing is done in India and very much part of the term we know as “Indian publishing”. Hindi accounts for about 40% of Indian publishing (a term, which includes English language by the way). That leaves out 20% to 30% of the market for other Indian languages. “Vernacular” is a colonial term which creates a blanket identity for all the other languages in India, a term which many of us hate the use of.

2. I am also happy to inform you that small publishers in India, if you cared to check, are not threatened by the big publishers. We all co-exist because there is a lot of room to grow here just now and there are many of us waiting to grow. The infrastructure created by big publishers works to the advantage of small publishers and we are in fact able to place our books in different parts of the country thanks to this network. Contrary to your claim, the proposed amendment not only affects the big publishers, it affects all of us.

3. Publishers are businesspeople. Would you rather they depended on corporate funds and NGO funds like some publishers are now beginning to do? But publishers are not producing something that people know they definitely want, like textile manufacturers. Publishing is a hugely risk-taking business in a country where the reading habit is restricted to about 2% of the population. Per capita rate for book purchase in India is one book a year and not because of prices (which are the lowest in the world already!) but because our competition comes from Bollywood, television, and video games.

4. The publishing chain includes these actors: Publisher>Author/s>Editor>Designers+ illustrators>Process House(in the case of four colour books)>Printers (which includes binders, packagers)>Wholesalers/Distributors>Booksellers. Now do the math with a book that costs Rs 400. You talk as if the publisher is pocketing 40% and the editors, designers and printers are doing everything out of charity! Book pricing is based on a formula, which any publisher will be happy to explain to you. (Thanks for your offer to send me Ulrike’s book and Moveable Type, I have both with me already.)

5. Not all authors understand this chain either. But the author-publisher relationship is extremely different than relationships in any other industry. Publishers are not service-providers and authors are not clients. Publishers and authors don’t work like enemies forced to depend on each other. Many authors are just wonderful and become lifelong associates and friends. Some of them think theirs is the only bestseller-in-waiting that the publisher should pay attention to. They expect to be taken on book tours at publishers’ cost, get reviewed in every newspaper and magazine in the world and assume it can be “arranged” by publishers, and constantly complain about how their books are not available in some small back lane store of Timbuktu. Some of them treat the publishers like secretaries. Many people, like you, fail to see the investment it takes to put a book out there. And, many like you, fail to see that a published book is as much a publisher’s baby as it is an author’s. The copyright is the author’s for the text, but the edition is the publisher’s because of the investment that she has made in it. The publisher indeed has a huge hand in making an author a bestselling one. Which is why, the clause 2M which removes the publisher’s right to have a say in the author granting the import of foreign editions of the same book, is a GRAVE concern for Indian publishers.

6. Indian-languages publishing is a different scene altogether. The market is limited to readers in those languages, which reflects in the percentage I drew up in point no. 1. Before you take off again, I am fully aware that a bulk of the writing in Indian languages is in many cases far superior to Indian English writing. I have no idea on what basis you say that the quality of publishing is the same. I can’t find a Kannada book which is as well produced (technically, typesetting and print-production parameters), however good the writing is. But readership patterns of English language and Kannada language are very different in India. Undoubtedly things are changing (Navakarnataka recently published a book on the crisis of the mother tongues, in English, and it was nicely produced); and we are not yet at a stage where Indians are reading Indian literature emerging in the different Indian languages. The economics of differential book pricing between Indian and English language books is primarily because of costs involved in producing, marketing and distributing the book. If a Kannada publisher was selling his books in bookshops across the country, the overall price would definitely go up. Currently, his booksellers are sitting in a limited geography. His warehousing costs are less, he is hardly licensing any editions, he doubles up as editor in many cases etc. The chain is different. And yes, his author does get less at the end of the day than an author in English. That should change, and that can only change if more readers get added to Kannada than there are now and the geography of the spread increases. Simple market economics, no rocket science.

7. The logic of piracy is something I don’t know, and I can’t quite figure out what analogy you were trying to achieve with the Shobha De books. But I am confident that if a Kannada book became a bestseller (selling over 25000 copies) and got international attention you will find a pirate edition of it on Mysore’s streets. Pirate editions don’t come out until the book has received glamourised attention, as you may know already.

8. Like it or not, it is the Indian English publishing scene that has given a global face to Indian publishing. Many Indian language publishers are propelling themselves ahead by borrowing from lessons learned by English language publishers in India. Whether this is right or wrong is another debate and not in the purview of this one, but I assure you that the ones that do so are not complaining.

9. If the stakes set were high only for the “narrow set” of publishers as you described, how do you explain the Federation of Indian Publishers joining with the Association of Publishers in India and speaking for the wider set? Ever since the government lifted restrictions on foreign ownership in publishing companies in 2000, FIP has been complaining to the government about the “invasion of foreign capital” taking away profits. And yet, in this regard, the two parties have joined hands. Surely you don’t think that Indian publishers have no mind of their own and are under the thumb of the “colonial masters”?

10. Frankly, I don’t see how clause 32A counters the problems posed by parallel imports. I look forward to any useful insight into this.

11. I have no idea what you know of readership patterns in India. But yes, Stephanie Meyers is selling more than Amitav Ghosh for the simple reason that they are read by two different readership profiles. Young people in India form one third the population and 25% of them are readers, which is encouraging (NBT-NCAER study on youth readership). A sample survey conducted by the Tehelka magazine on book reading habits in Indian metros revealed that only 42% of book buyers were habitual readers, while others bought books for self improvement and English-language skills, i.e. books that have a take-home value. It is no wonder then that in 2009–2010, the industry saw an increase in the number of children’s books, management books, cook books, self-help and self-improvement books. However much fiction grabs headlines, the books that are really selling in big numbers are academic, management and how-to books.


12. Many of us in the publishing industry are fully aware of what needs to change within, and we have demanded stronger copyright laws ourselves. But allowing parallel imports is definitely not the answer. This is for those readers trying to make sense of why publishers are protesting: India has a unique publishing industry. The country positions itself today as a global hub of publishing, with a claim of 90,000 titles published in a year by an estimated 19,000 publishers (many of these are not registered with the national ISBN agency). It is also acknowledged as being the sixth largest book-producing country and the third-largest producer of English books in the world. This also makes it an attractive destination for foreign publishers from English speaking countries to work with India (USA, UK, Australia-NZ). With the economy developing at 8.8% and middle class rapidly entering the consumer sector, domestic publishing is thriving in India. Indian authors are slowly getting more bargaining power now than ever before. Many authors have come forward in support of the publishers’ protest. Unlike with other majority English-speaking and -publishing countries (and I don’t mean Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore which hardly have indigenous publishing activity) where organized publishing industry has existed for a far longer time to develop itself into a mature industry, India is not the same and neither is it culturally homogenous with the rest of them. What we want to read should not be dictated by other publishers, but should be selected by our publishers, who are far more in touch with the needs of a growing India, where we still battling with our unique demographics in education and literacy. Publishing in India is a fragile ecosystem.

I would like to point you to a few links for a different point of view than what the IP lawyers are presenting:


Vinutha Mallya, Senior Editor, Mapin Publishing

17 comments:

  1. “Which is why, the clause 2M which removes the publisher’s right to have a say in the author granting the import of foreign editions of the same book, is a GRAVE concern for Indian publishers.”
    I have very little understanding of law. However, common sense tells me that the author and the publisher must be able to draw up a contract which bars the author from granting the above permission. Is that not true? Any law barring such a contract would understandably kill the incentive to risk publishing. Surely, no such law must exist.
    -----------------------
    “What we want to read should not be dictated by other publishers, but should be selected by our publishers, who are far more in touch with the needs of a growing India”

    How about:

    “What we want to drive should not be dictated by other car makers, but should be selected by our car makers, who are far more in touch with the needs of a growing India”

    Really?

    Maybe the choice is best left to the Indian reader, however “bad” the current taste of the average Indian reader.

    While Indian publishers play a very important role in bringing good works to the reader, that others will not be able to cater to a diverse and growing reader populace (that is given there is a market) and meet their demands or will get away with not meeting reader aspirations is highly unlikely.

    In fact if others are so bad at tapping the Indian market then that should be a good thing for Indian publishers.

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  2. Yes, Sanjit. Really.

    The point we are trying to make (again and again) is that book publishing/selling in India is not like making or selling cars, fridges, ACs, Cornflakes, detergent powder, TV, soap dishes, hair bands, jeans, trousers, shirts -- and the rest of it.

    In sneering at us in this manner, you're sneering at committed professionals who're earning their bread by the sweat of their brow.

    Why hasn't the country let in Rupert Murdoch and their counterparts to take the Indian media over? Why don't we open our doors to all the doctors/ lawyers/ teachers/ professors/ business people, etc etc etc from all over the world as well?

    It is very easy to sit and sneer, but try looking at it from our perspective too.

    The reader still has every right to make his/her choices. Everything is available to him/her -- and at reasonable prices -- even now. But there is a general resistance to spend on books. People would rather spend Rs 300 on a pizza, a movie ticket, or even on a pair of earrings.

    But when a publisher offers a book for the same price, he/she's a big, bad wolf involved in a nationwide conspiracy!!! Pray, why??

    If you want proper/further details, please care to look at Thomas Abraham's three rebuttals on this very blog.

    But, without understanding the modalities/ dynamics of book publishing in India, please do not say such things.

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  3. I am sorry. I may not have done a very good job conveying what I wanted to in my last comment. Neither am I sneering at the publishing industry nor am I doubting its commitment. Honestly, I have no reason to. My point, using the car example, was that it is not the best way to argue for the requirement of an Indian publishing industry. Similar arguments have been made and are still made around the world about the importance of an industry by people in it. I would just have markets decide what stays and what goes (applies to my industry too).

    The rest of the article I was just fine with and liked. I just had a small query regarding the amendment.

    You may not believe but I am for all the opening you are suggesting. I do think, and there is evidence (tabulated by many economists for example), that such opening up has made life better on the whole and has not lead to doom as many fear when opening up. In general there are many more winners than losers.

    I did read the articles and for the record I do think that a publisher should charge whatever the publisher wants to. Not sure what made you feel I think otherwise. I do not believe that there is a price people have a right to, be it books or movies or water for that matter.

    BTW, I in my earlier comment also supported the right of a publisher to draw a suitable contract with an author. I was wondering if the amendment will disallow specific aspects of the same.

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  4. @Sanjit: It's all right. No, I was speaking of the trends in general -- not pointing at you. People almost always find books 'expensive', even when they're perfectly capable of buying them.

    Again, by all means, let the readers decide what stays and what goes. That's not what we're contesting. We're against having our own titles coming into our own market to kill our own edition, from a foreign land, esp. when it's not required. As you may have noticed, the fundamental questions we've raised haven't been answered by the IPR lawyers/ policy makers at all.

    Regarding the opening up of markets, well, the matter is much more complex than that. We could perhaps have another debate on it and see what others have to say. It's not as if it's not happening already. We do have Indians working abroad and vice versa, but not at the cost of the local professionals themselves.

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  5. Eeks! That should've been 'spending'; sorry. :)

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  6. This law will hit the bread and butter of tax paying citizens and make richer those who probably don't pay any taxes even now! how is that supposed to be useful to the govt? That is even if we forget all about how any govt should actually be safeguarding the interests of its law abiding citizens and not pass laws which will harm them in the name of creating an ideal, abstract world which will takes millenia to become a reality for everyone.

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  7. Hi Divya:

    Am greatly enjoying your blog--terrific job!

    I've come into this debate rather late, but have been watching the exchanges on section 2(m) with fascination. Its terrific that IP law making in this country is getting more participatory and nuanced, when compared with a rather secretive law making past. I still remember the passage of the '94 copyright amendments when some sections made their way verbatim from a note (passed under the table) by just one IP stakeholder without so much a discussion or debate! Indeed, we've come a long way and i must thank you for fostering this lively debate on this platform.

    I come at this issue from the perspective of an academic who is interested in sound IP policy for India. To me, there is at least one basic norm to any IP policy making endeavour and let me place it before you to seek your views before we dive in any further:

    The presumption ought to always favour principles of free market competition. IP norms restrict competition and should be introduced only when the benefits outweigh the costs i.e absent such protection, the rate and production of IP goods would suffer, owing to threats of free riding. In the absence of concrete evidence one way or the other, the fall back position ought to favour free competition.

    If we're settled on the presumption above, I want to raise a few issues, mainly to better my own understanding of the situation:

    1. What current evidence do we have to suggest that parallel import norms would harm the industry And that the gains to consumers and free market competition would be too modest to effectively outweigh this harm? Please note that when using the term "industry", I restrict myself to industry that is in some way helping the Indian economy and Indian authors by inter alia disbursing its profits in this country and not repatriating it. I don't think Indian policy makers should be too keen on enriching the coffers of foreign publishers and distributors...

    2. If India anyway has the cheapest editions (and I see this sentiment articulated repeatedly by even the publishers), then what harm can come from parallel imports? If there is no possibility of cost arbitrage, haven't we anyway curtailed the scope for profitable parallel importers?

    3. Does the concern pertain to remaindered copies? Is there evidence of such copies harming markets such as Australia that provided for parallel imports (qua books that were not published in Australia within a month of first publication elsewhere)? And if this is really a concern, can the government not prohibit only "remaindered" copies OR even tax such copies? Or impose anti dumping penalties.

    In other words, we retain section 2(m) and provide a carve out from 2(m) only for "remaindered copies"?

    4. Is the concern that low priced editions would be exported out of India? If true, section 2(m) cannot address it, as it relates to "imports". Exports have to be dealt with separately, as you will appreciate.

    5. It may be of interest to note that both patent law and trademark law in India provide a wide parallel import provision. These have operated for years without any palpable damage to industry (at least I haven't seen any evidence and would be curious to see it)... Why should copyright be treated any different?

    Would greatly appreciate any clarifications from you on this. Look forward to a healthy discussion on this count.

    Shamnad Basheer
    MHRD Professor of IP law, NUJS
    Founder, SpicyIP

    ps: While I hold a chair instituted by the MHRD, I am an academic enjoying the freedom to harbour independent views, which have often clashed with those of the government. In particular, I've been part of a group that staunchly opposed a key provision in the current bill relating to disability. In short, I don't speak for the government here.

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  8. Dear Prof. Basheer,

    I wasn't sure you'd seen Thomas Abraham's rebuttals 2 and 3 specifically, because they do cover a lot of ground in exhaustive detail. Honestly speaking, I'm not qualified enough to tread upon the legal minefield myslef; my understanding and concerns are pretty much defined in a layman's language.

    However, here are your answers directly from Thomas Abraham once again (as an attachment). Also posted on the blog. Hope this helps.


    I've come into this debate rather late, but have been watching the exchanges on section 2(m) with fascination. Its terrific that IP law making in this country is getting more participatory and nuanced, when compared with a rather secretive law making past.

    [ Ref: http://www.hindustantimes.com/The-death-of-books/Article1-652735.aspx]

    TA--It’s not if this one is anything to go by (the whole process that has rushed this past the standing committee phase). It’s just the blanket assumption of a few IP lawyers who have no idea of ground realities and have not bothered to find out.

    I still remember the passage of the '94 copyright amendments when some sections made their way verbatim from a note (passed under the table) by just one IP stakeholder without so much a discussion or debate! Indeed, we've come a long way and i must thank you for fostering this lively debate on this platform.

    TA--It’s not the job of this forum to generate lively debate. Lively debate should be generated by law makers before embarking on framing laws.

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  9. CONT:

    I come at this issue from the perspective of an academic who is interested in sound IP policy for India. To me, there is at least one basic norm to any IP policy making endeavour and let me place it before you to seek your views before we dive in any further:

    The presumption ought to always favour principles of free market competition. IP norms restrict competition and should be introduced only when the benefits outweigh the costs i.e absent such protection, the rate and production of IP goods would suffer, owing to threats of free riding. In the absence of concrete evidence one way or the other, the fall back position ought to favour free competition.
    If we're settled on the presumption above,

    TA--No we’re not. Because that’s precisely the point we’re labouring-- that this cannot be not a one size fits all law summarized by a glib presumption that advocates intangible benefits in the fact that copyright should be on par with patents or trademarks.

    Coming to the next point, first let’s examine the definition of competition. In almost every industry except books (and arguably music/DVD) exclusivity in local territories might foster monopolies. So keeping coke out perhaps protected Thums Up; and keeping the car brigade out deprived the country of current technology. No such thing happens in books. Firstly books do not compete the same way as consumer goods (even patented ones) do. Because a Honda city bought is a Hyundai Verna not bought, and a coke drunk is a pepsi not drunk—a palpable loss of sale. A Vikram Seth bought is not an Amitav Ghosh not bought. A consumer may buy both and surely it’s clear that one does not really compete with the other in the conventional business definition of competition. So that brings us to the key questions.

    --what competition is being kept out? (Answer: no one. everybody is already here. ‘Foreign’ and local co-exist and both are protesting this.

    --does this existing law favour foreign publishers? (Answer: No. From the largest to the smallest everybody is opposing it. If the law makers had only bothered to ask, they would have known this)

    --is there scarcity of product? Would this law bring in a wider range? (Answer: No, just the opposite would happen—patterns of stocking would change to reduce range as remainders flowed in. And currently any book in the world is on offer here and cheaper)

    --Will it bring prices down to the benefit of societal needs? (Answer: No, as proven by demonstrating existing patterns in price points across every common use segment)

    --Are authors different from inventors who register patents? On an average yes! A microwave is a microwave is a microwave is a microwave. A cellphone is a cellphone is a cellphone. Yes there will be patented technology differentiators but certainly not the same as each book being a unique creative object, where the creator has ‘enshrined rights’, or at least so the other part of this amendment (films/music) would lead us believe. So why the discrimination against book authors in terms of a complete disregard as to their interest

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  10. CONT:


    1. What current evidence do we have to suggest that parallel import norms would harm the industry And that the gains to consumers and free market competition would be too modest to effectively outweigh this harm? Please note that when using the term "industry", I restrict myself to industry that is in some way helping the Indian economy and Indian authors by inter alia disbursing its profits in this country and not repatriating it. I don't think Indian policy makers should be too keen on enriching the coffers of foreign publishers and distributors...

    TA--First what evidence was considered in putting together this law? Where is the slightest credible evidence that it will benefit consumers? The competition question has been covered.

    And to answer the other question (re parallel importation), there are plenty of current examples—refer to the ‘trickle’ that currently exists that prove that this will only create spoiler pricing and in the long term will harm the industry with no gain to the consumer.
    That brings me to next to the foreign question; this subliminal jingoism I’ve noticed in quite a few of the debates. Are foreign owned companies some sort of pariahs who should be treated differently? On the one hand we solicit foreign investment. Having allowed companies to set up, any debate that comes up will inevitably (and generally with no substantiation) move to the rhetoric of ‘foreign’ being some sort of malevolent force existing here.

    What is the difference between an Indian firm like Rupa or a ‘foreign’ firm like Penguin outside ownership? Both sell foreign books (distribution business) alongside local publishing. There have been ‘foreign’ publishers here for over a 100 years. And it would be interesting to see how much profit has been repatriated in these 100 years. Not one publisher to the best of my knowledge has repatriated profits back—publishing does not make that much profit! But on a point of legality, either the law has given a company the right to repatriate or it has not. If it has, then it is not relevant to bring this in as an extraneous issue into a debate on copyright amendment. (ironically the amendment will now see such an outflow of forex as multiple wholesalers set up businesses buying remainders and paying for them in forex!)

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  11. CONT:

    2. If India anyway has the cheapest editions (and I see this sentiment articulated repeatedly by even the publishers), then what harm can come from parallel imports? If there is no possibility of cost arbitrage, haven't we anyway curtailed the scope for profitable parallel importers?

    TA--The jesting pilate question, already answered in The Death of Books. But let’s ask the simpler question—books are the cheapest here (and that’s easily proved by listing each key segment) so why is this law needed?
    Cost arbitrage: the simple fact must be kept in sight, that surpluses will be dumped in here. It was not meant for this territory, and now that it’s open market it can be sent in here because its additional sale for the foreign distributor (and they can afford to undercut the local edition slightly). So are we saying that that’s what we want for our consumers? Surplus stocks dumped in here, because it may be marginally cheaper. Not a very just legal system—that will let somebody do the sowing (local publishers pay the advances, build the author, do the marketing and promotion; price low for the consumer at the cost of their margins) and allow somebody else (wholesaler/remainder merchant) to do the reaping. Or get us reciprocity before embarking on this. Every major international market where local publishing thrives operates on the principle of territorial copyright. As did India. If there needs to be a change in law—it presumably follows from some serious lacuna that have been observed and studied. We would love to hear what they are.


    3. Does the concern pertain to remaindered copies? Is there evidence of such copies harming markets such as Australia that provided for parallel imports (qua books that were not published in Australia within a month of first publication elsewhere)? And if this is really a concern, can the government not prohibit only "remaindered" copies OR even tax such copies? Or impose anti dumping penalties.

    In other words, we retain section 2(m) and provide a carve out from 2(m) only for "remaindered copies"?

    TA--No remainders are the biggest problem but there will also be targeted exports that will undercut existing legal editions; thereby harming local authors, local industry and eventually local writing itself. Australia is not an open market. Australian copyright law merely enforces the consumer’s right to get books quickly—hence the 30 day rule, which says that the copyright holder must exercise his right and publish within 30 days of publication elsewhere. Australia is not a low priced market, and territorial copyright has still been chosen as the way to go in recognition of a thriving local industry and local writing that would suffer.

    Already answered why anti-dumping is not feasible to monitor books; please see my discussion with Pranesh Prakash and Prashant.

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  12. CONT:

    4. Is the concern that low priced editions would be exported out of India? If true, section 2(m) cannot address it, as it relates to "imports". Exports have to be dealt with separately, as you will appreciate.

    TA--That is a concern since there seems to debate on the legal interpretation of whether this is implied or inherent in the way 2m has been worded. See Pranesh Prakash’s separate blog on the subject. Let the law be clear if this is not intended.

    5. It may be of interest to note that both patent law and trademark law in India provide a wide parallel import provision. These have operated for years without any palpable damage to industry (at least I haven't seen any evidence and would be curious to see it)... Why should copyright be treated any different?

    TA--Already explained above. Books are different. It is for those industries to protest should that be the case. Publishers are not making wider judgments—we are merely saying books are different and problems specific to the writers and industry impacted should be studied.

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  13. Dear Mr Abraham:

    Thanks for the insightful responses.

    Lets try and see if we can agree on the framework first. I repeat a point I'd already made earlier. Any policy making framework ought to favour free market competition as the default position. If the law decides to curb such competition, it better have good reason. IP ought to be suffered as a monopoly, only if there is concrete and convincing evidence that its existence engenders an accelerated production of knowledge goods.

    Unfortunately, owing to a colonial legacy and a general apathy towards IP policy making, our regimes blindly incorporated the formalistic legal regimes of the west, sans empirical validation.

    If we were to draft our copyright regime afresh today, our default position would be that of free competition. And we start placing copyright curbs only where there is evidence to suggest that such curbs help promote the production of new knowledge goods.

    Given this framework, the default would support parallel trade, not least because the IP owner has already milked that IP good through one sale somewhere in the world. The onus is essentially on you to demonstrate why a restriction on parallel imports (and free competition) is to be placed. In other words, the argument from your side cannot be that "why is the law being amended. show us where the problem lies"?

    Rather, the law is simply going back to a default position it ought to have adopted ages back, but simply didn't owing to ignorance and bad policy making. It would have been great if we could do this with a number of other IP norms such as the term of copyright protection for life + 60 years!, but sadly TRIPS prohibits us. But TRIPS does give us the policy flexibility to induct principles of parallel import or international exhaustion. And unless there is concrete evidence to suggest that we will end up shooting ourselves in the foot, we ought to jump at this.

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  14. CONTINUED:

    The best evidence that I see being proffered from you and other publishers are:

    1. remaindered copies
    2. threat of exports of LPE's to the US and EU

    Do let me know if there is another countervailing ground for which convincing evidence or argumentation has been offered and which I'm missing here.

    In terms of remaindered copies, I gather from your responses to Pranesh that you admit that such copies will not in any case undercut the market too much---rather the prices will only be marginally lower than the LPE in India. Which is why you think that antidumping may not really be an optimal policy solution. If this is really so, then where is the problem? I take it that remaindered copies will flood the market at a time that is quite distant from the time that the book is first published and sold.

    And I take it from several of my publisher friends that "time" is of essence in many of these markets. Sales closest to first publication will be highest revenue earners. Which means the pre determined distribution patterns in India are not terribly upset by remaindered copies....given that they come much later in time and at a price that is only marginally better. Have I got it right? And if pre existing distributors get titles in India much later than the world release, then I guess the threat of remaindering will essentially push publishers to sell quicker in India. A result that will surely be music to the ears of Indian consumers.

    In any case, assuming that remaindering remains this behemoth of a problem for you, we can always carve out a "remaindering" specific exception from the ambit of section 2(m). Will this work for you? Or we could tax remaindered copies heavily and have this tax distributed to authors who lose out on lost royalties from the Indian market. Solutions are legion, but remaindering needn't cause us to dispense altogether with an overall principle of free market competition through parallel imports.

    In terms of exports, as you no doubt appreciate, the current law is on your side. John Wiley (Delhi HC case) prevents exports out of India. For good or for bad, that is the law of the land. If you suspect (as I do) that Wiley will soon be overturned, since it conjures up an exclusive right to export out of thin air, then its best that you articulate your claim for a statutory right to prevent exports separately and bring it on the table. Conflating it with imports and international exhaustion will do no good for any of us.

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  15. Continued II:

    Some more questions for you, Mr Abraham:

    1. You make a rather sweeping statement that no further competition needs to be engendered in the market, since it is almost perfectly competitive now. Parallel importation norms always draw in more players, particularly distributors--and its been seen with almost avery other industry...why are books in India any different? So a legal regime that engenders free competition on this count will likely see more new players.

    2. Secondly, is your claim is that there is no "availability" problem at all in India, since almost all titles are available in a timely manner in India (at least the titles for which there is some demand)?

    3. Thirdly, if your concern is that an existing publisher or distributor abroad makes extra copies to capitalise on the Indian market or pushes remaindered copies here, can't you simply tackle this through contract and take them to task, should they breach?

    4. The remaindering problem: which I continue to see as really the only key convincing reason advanced so far to counter section 2(m): how big is this? Are we worried only about Indian authors whose books get remaindered causing them to lose royalties? In which case, can we carve out an exception in section 2(m) preventing remaindered copies of Indian authors?

    Thanks,

    Shamnad Basheer

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  16. Dear Ms.Vinutha Mallya. it is so balanced, restrained and your methods of containing anger are excellent. As a writer in Kannada language i have always wondered if the Indian language publishing can ever gain some professionalism. I am so worried that our publishers who can sell even the thrash and scrap to state owned libraries and produce hundreds of books of whatever genre every year do not even bother to employ a proof reader.Paying Authors is a distant dream.
    R. Vijayaraghavan

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  17. wow, wow and one more wow!!

    What a read it was!

    The only regret is that I had to read the original fake as well! sob..sob...

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