Australian readers – take note



Hello my name is Joe Hockey

Hello Droogs,
I’m taking a moment away from the usual brand of shenanigans and tomfoolery that plagues the pages of this blog to talk about a threat to the Australian publishing industry and Australian authors. This is a long post, but if you’re a reader of Australian fiction, you should seriously read on. There will be cake at the end.*
You may be aware that the Australian Federal Government is looking to change existing copyright laws in a way that will be deeply damaging to the Australian book industry, particularly to creators (like yours truly) and publishers.
The Turnbull Government has stated its intention to remove the Parallel Importation Rules (PIRs) that currently exist to protect Australian territorial copyright. These rules were put in place to ensure that if an Australian publisher holds the rights to a book – whether from a local or overseas author – then they have the exclusive ability to publish that title in Australia.
Under these rules, an individual reader can still order a book from anywhere in the world, because yay Freedom of Choice. But commercial quantities can’t be imported into Australia without the permission of the Australian publisher. Similar laws exist in the US and the UK. This system has created a viable Australian publishing industry, and allowed Australian authors to do important things like Pay Their Mortgage and, you know, Not Starve to Death. Removing Parallel Importation Rules will allow overseas editions or remainder copies (editions that failed to sell in their own markets) to flood the Aus market, with substantially reduced royalties being paid to authors, and with sales revenues going to overseas wholesalers and publishers, rather than Australian publishers. The Federal Government hopes that removing PIRs will mean cheaper books for readers, but they have little evidence to suggest the move will actually result in market-wide lower prices. However, it will have a huge impact in reducing the size of the Australian publishing industry, and thus the number of books published in Australia.
With me so far? It gets worse.
The recent Productivity Commission draft report into Intellectual Property Arrangements (released in late April 2016 and prepared at the instigation of former treasurer Joe Hockey, who remember, JUST GOT FIRED BY HIS OWN PARTY) endorses the removal of PIRs, but it also goes further into the hellish depths of stupid. The report proposes substantially reducing an author’s term of copyright, and increasing the amount of copyright material that can be used by others without payment or permission.
Basically, the government is looking to limit copyright ownership of any literary work to extend only as far as fifteen years. After that, your work isn’t yours anymore and people can reproduce and sell it with impunity. Doesn’t matter who you are. Doesn’t matter what you created. People can just steal your shit. Hey, Mr Marcus Zusak, you know that Book Thief novel you wrote back in 2005? Well, we hope you enjoyed making money from it, because as of 2020, it doesn’t belong to you. Dear Mr Tim Winton, you thought you owned your masterpiece Cloudstreet, right? Do we have news for you! Yeah yeah, you fucking wrote it. But take a seat Mr Smarty Art man. All ur books R belong 2 us.
Sound fair?
No, Jay. It sounds like fucking madness. Now what can I do about this?
I’m glad you asked.
First up, you should TALK ABOUT IT. Spread the word on your social media channels. Raise the debate. Have a look at the campaign website:, and arm yourself with knowledge. Understand the fragility of the Australian publishing industry and what the long term ramifications will be if our government adopts a doctrine no other country/economy in the Western world is stupid enough to espouse.
Then, you should sign the petition: If you can spare it, donate some money to the cause.
And finally, when that big old Federal Election rolls around in a couple of months, think long and hard about who and WHAT you’re voting for.
That’s it. Thanks for reading.
*The Cake was a lie.

24 Responses to “Australian readers – take note”

  1. Elizabeth Cummings says:

    Wow. Based on the content of your post, I must argue that you gave poor Mad Hatter the arse end of the donkey in your photo above. I’m thinking a better image might be a pile of shite? Having said that, is there anything us poor droogs in the US can do to help? Since, well, we can’t vote there to help and we’re having our own voting crisis here…

  2. Samantha says:

    I like the idea of supporting Australian Industry.
    If we can get a promised from publishers to get rid of the stupid large paperback sizes that dont fit on shelves i would sign.

  3. AllyGC says:

    Whoa that’s crazy! Thanks for the post!

  4. rakioddbooks says:

    Reblogged this on rakioddbooks and commented:
    I had to reblog this.

  5. I published a link to the campaign website on my local politician facebook page. It doesn’t have a massive social media footprint, but every little bit helps.

  6. […] articles on the subject from Jay Kristoff, Richard Flanagan in the Guardian, Nikki Gemmell (audio), or the Daily […]

  7. kirizar says:

    I suspect if one country gets away with highway robbery, it will start other countries thinking about what they can get away with. Isn’t Australia considered a fashion setter? I hope your readers are also voracious voters.

  8. Hi Jay: Holy … Who said ‘..first, let’s kill the lawyers..?” Sounds like Australia is not being served well by the legislators in question. I know that the publishing industry has been turned on it’s ‘ear’ all over the world. Should we comfort ourselves with the thought that we will in effect be treated like Dickens, Austen, the Brontes, even before we take a dirt nap? Talk about things that make you go hmmmmm!!!!

  9. Suzy says:

    As if the publishing industry hasn’t already had a hard enough time since the internet…

  10. Reblogged this on divination diva and commented:
    For my Australian friends and anyone who cares

  11. […] and returning no royalties to me, the author.  If you’re not sure how it all works, check out this article by Jay Kristoff (I reckon he’s pretty much nailed it), and keep in mind what happened when PIR was removed […]

  12. That is scary. Thanks for letting us know. I agree with the above posters, start with one country and the rest will follow.

  13. kevinjsavoie says:


  14. Hannah says:

    Reblogged this on Hannah Jane.

  15. bethiepaige says:

    This is some pretty scary stuff. Though I went and checked out that draft submission by the productivity commission, and whilst there is a statement suggesting that there could be a change from protection from 70yrs after the authors death to 15yrs after creation, this statement wasn’t actually a reform suggestion. It was merely a discussion about the length of copyright in Australia and that one particular academic had found that 11-25 years after creation would be more cost effective. It seemed just to be some information that would be incorporated into a discussion about whether or not to adjust the length of copyright. I really doubt we (as a country) would go from from protecting copyright after an author’s life, to letting it drop to such a short period of time. I honestly don’t think we need to worry about the copyright length dropping to 15 years.
    Though Parallel Importation Rules… it’s essentially exploding a rocket into the heart of Australian publishing.

  16. Reblogged this on Rizzmeria – my World in Words and commented:
    Because this is important and this is some governmental bullshit right here…

  17. Reblogged this on Fire to the Poppies and commented:
    Hi everyone. This is super important to the Australian publishing industry and to authors here. Even if you’re not Australian, could you please sign the petition? Thank you!

  18. I also shared on my Facebook

  19. Reblogged this on Fire to the Poppies and commented:
    Hi everyone. This is super important to the Australian publishing industry and to authors here. Even if you’re not Australian, could you please sign the petition? Thank you!

  20. I’m Australian and trying to get my first book published and there’s no way I’d go with an Australian agent or publisher, unless no one else in the world wants me and I’m really desperate. 🙂

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