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Egyptian Publishers Association kicks off plans against piracy

During a two-day event, the Egyptian Publishers Association has initiated an ambitious plan to clamp down on book piracy

MENA and Ahram Online, Sunday 6 May 2012
Egyptian Publishers Association

During a two-day event under the title “Book Piracy and Author Copyright,” the Egyptian Publishers Association (EPA) has initiated a plan of action against book piracy and forgery. The event, held at the Supreme Council for Culture, gathered members from a number of relevant organisations and authorities. Attendees included Zein Abdel-Hadi, head of the Egyptian Library and Archives, Mohamed Salmawy, head of the Union of Egyptian Writers, and representatives from the Arab League and the Ministry of Communication.

According to Mohamed Rashad, head of the EPA, there is a need to change the law governing the EPA itself, to be able to fight piracy in Egypt, as well as a need to adjust laws governing creative property rights to increase the penalties for infringing author rights.

Mohamed Salmawy underlined the role of the state in limiting the piracy phenomenon, including raids on locations known to sell pirated books on a daily basis, for example at universities. Salmawy highlighted that there is now a unit for property rights in the Union of Egyptian Writers that tracks the work of writers who are members in the union and whose works have been pirated. The unit attempts to bring cases against offenders.

As an aside, Salmawy refused state intervention to control book prices, even as an attempt to push readers to buy books.

The recommended plan by EPA is to establish a committee including members from the information network police, the Information Bureau, the Copyrights Protection Unit of the police, the Ministry of Information and Communication, as well as the Unions of Egyptian Writers, Egyptian publishers, Arab publishers and their legal offices. The proposal is for this committee to convene once a month and to request support to accomplish the task of preventing piracy.

The plan to prevent piracy includes means to organise the work of print houses, and organiing training and awareness raising sessions for police personnel, prosecutors and investigators. Such sessions would cover the laws governing the protection of creative rights and some common mistakes in applying these laws.

Within the National Egyptian Library and Archives, one proposed measure is to avoid giving ISBN numbers to publishers that are not members of the EPA, and that the EPA will provide the National Library with updated lists periodically. A recommendation was put forward to include small print houses under the umbrella of the Chamber of Print Houses, to strengthen control over the printing process and establish a cooperation protocol between the chamber and the EPA that includes awareness raising and training sessions.

Shipping companies specialising in book imports and exports were also mentioned, and there is a recommendation to provide them with the names of members of the EPA, so as no shipments can be allowed except by prior approval of the EPA directly.

Attendants requested that only members of the EPA be allowed to join book fairs of the General Egyptian Book Organisation in Egypt.

A fund was also proposed whereby contributions will be collected for awareness campaigns regarding copyright in the public media, requesting their assistance and cooperation in this matter.

The event is the first in a series of efforts to combat piracy both offline, through reprinting without obtaining copyright permission, and online also.

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