Michiel Kolman, President of the
International Publishers Association
Have you visited the Sharjah International Book Fair before?
No, 2017 will be my first Sharjah book fair and I am really
looking forward to enjoying the great program and speakers
lined up this year.
What do you see as the principal issues for the IPA to handle?
The IPA represents publishers around the world that are
active in a whole range of publishing areas, from children’s
books, literary works to academic and educational works. As
such there is a wide range of issues that the IPA can cover but
these can be categorized into two main topics.
The first is to recognize that in many cases, during the
process of providing tools and services to authors, publishers
assume the same risks as writers. Underpinning this
relationship is copyright, an indispensable legal instrument
that protects the rights of creators and publishers.
In today’s society which is so focused on technology and
online media, publishers remain concerned about piracy and
its ability to undermine the fundamentals of the publishing
industry. Without a good framework for intellectual property
rights, there is too little investment and innovation, which
endangers quality publishing. I believe that publishers
should stand as beacons of trustworthiness in an age of fake
news and alternative facts and we must as publishers take a
leading role in providing trustworthy, reliable information—
it’s the core of what we do and we need a robust copyright
framework to that.
The second principal issue is that fundamental to
publishing is having the freedom to disseminate written ideas
and protect and encourage creators. Freedom to Publish
is one of the core pillars of the IPA and central to much of
what we do. For example, just last week, we awarded the IPA
Prix Voltaire at the Gothenburg Book Fair, which rewards
exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish
and in enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of
expression. We have also been engaged on issues such as the
imminent trial of Turkish writer Asli Erdoğan and many others.
Tell us about the progress made on copyright issues in
the Middle East.
In the UAE and across the region there is a clear understanding
that authors and content creators deserve to have their work
recognized and protected. This had been demonstrated over
the past two decades with several countries in the region
modernizing their copyright and intellectual property protection
frameworks. The UAE in particular has taken significant steps at
protecting copyright and IP. The country is a signatory to W TO-
TRIPS, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, as well as the Berne and Paris
Conventions. It also passed several laws that largely comply with
international standards of IP protection
In 2004, the government also introduced a Ministerial
decree which provides the legal foundation for establishing
collective societies in the country, which gives the UAE the
opportunity to create the first RRO in the region.