Varsities ‘promoting’ book piracy, publishers complain | Pakistan Today

Varsities ‘promoting’ book piracy, publishers complain

–IPO says publishers will be made part of policy to curb copyrights violations

ISLAMABAD: As the Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) Pakistan- an attached department of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC)- has recently drafted amendments in the copyrights’ rules, the publishers have come up with a complaint that major universities and educational institutions are facilitating ‘piracy’ in the country.

During a meeting with the IPO Pakistan officials chaired by its Chairman Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, a group of representatives of publishing firms complained the universities were not only allowing students to purchase, use and sell illegally the copied books but also facilitating the illegal business of photocopying entire books through photocopier shops setup within the universities’ premises.

The publishers who attended the meeting included PLD Publishers CEO Muhamamd Zuber Saeed, Mehboob Ali of Ali Brothers Publishers, Ahmed Najib of Caravan Book House and others. National Book Foundation Director Nuzhat Akbar was also present.

According to the documents/minutes of the meeting, the IPO Pakistan had initiated an Outreach Programme on Copyright under which the organization was consulting stakeholders for their inputs before initiating proper legislation to protect and promote the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in the country.

The IPO has prepared draft amendments in the existing law and shared with the stakeholders for their inputs.

The publishers informed the meeting that all the textbooks, teachers’ recommended books, and other publications were being photocopied within the universities and educational institutions because of the non-enforcement of IPRs rules by the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).

“Even the teachers and administrations of the universities encourage students to use illegally photocopied material as teachers place recommended books at photocopier shops and ask students to collect the photocopied sets,” one of the publishers informed the meeting.

“There are unregistered polishers who reprint the costlier books illegally and sell those at a fraction of the original price,” he said suggesting a strict action against the pirates should be taken in order to protect the dying the publishing industry.

He further said a number of local and international books related to history, science, politics, economy, business etc were also being pirated in the local market.

According to the publishers, Pakistan lacked the environment of IPRs protection contrary to the neighboring countries like India, Bangladesh, and China.

To discourage this illegal business, the government should facilitate local publishers to sign agreements with the foreign publishers for publication of international books at a lower price in the country, they suggested.

“This way we can discourage and control piracy, which is increasing day by day because of the steep prices,” publisher Muhamamd Zuber Saeed observed.

“After the ban on Indo-Pak trade, the piracy of books has increased in the country as the same were previously being imported from the neighboring country,” he said, adding the Indian publishers were publishing international books at cheaper rates as they enjoyed contracts with foreign publishing firms.

Another publisher pinpointed that they didn’t know which LEA had the mandate to act against pirates in case of complaints.  “Numerous raids on Lahore’s Urdu Bazaar to check selling of infringed books have even failed to deter their suppliers.”

The publishers, during the meeting, called for legislation against copy, import and download of books/material online especially in PDF format.

IPO Chairman Mujeeb Ahmed said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had the mandate to implement the IPRs rules, however, in some cases police also intervened.

He said IPO Pakistan was taking up the matter with heads of FIA, Police and Customs to effectively implement the IPRs across the country.

Ahmad informed the meeting that he had held a detailed meeting with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman to adopt a strategy to control piracy in universities. He said the inputs of publishers could be incorporated in the draft amendments in the IPRs rules.