The Publishers Association (known as the PA) was established in 1895 and remains the main trade organisation representing the interests of book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the United Kingdom. On its website it states that its ‘mission is to strengthen the trading environment for UK publishers, by providing a strong voice for the industry in government, within society and with other stakeholders in the UK, in Europe and internationally; providing a forum for the exchange of non-competitive information between publishers; and providing support and guidance to the industry through technological and other changes.’
It goes on to state that ‘Our core service is representation and lobbying, around copyright, rights and other matters relevant to our members, who represent roughly 80 per cent of the industry by turnover’, and also provides a list of its objectives.
These goals include: to
- Represent the large majority of UK publishing by turnover, growing membership across sectors year on year
- Promote the intellectual property agenda, leading the debate in digital and other arenas, and working to ensure that IP laws are enforced
- Proactively define policy positions in consultation with members, and consistently deliver on them in the public affairs arena and with other relevant stakeholders
- Explain the value of UK publishing in economic, cultural, scientific, education and social terms, strongly communicating the role of and value added by publishers in a changing environment
- Provide a broad range of first rate information to members and other stakeholders in the global marketplace
- Guide and support the industry through technological change; and develop standards across the industry and up and down the supply chain where this will improve the sector’s competitiveness
The association’s governing body is the PA Council, a 15-member board of representative elected from the membership, plus the chairs of the Academic and Professional Board, the Educational Publishers Council, the International Board and the Chief Executive. The board meets on average six times annually, with Council members serving a maximum of two three-year terms.
Lobbying role, activities and achievements
The PA states that its lobbying agenda centres around ‘the survival and promotion of the publishing industry’. Specific issues include:
- Protecting the copyright framework and ensuring that new or amended legislation reflects the best interests of rights holders
- Steering the development of new and amended legislation to allow our members to continue to innovate and develop new business models to maximise the potential afforded by digital technology
- Ensuring that regulation and legislation around VAT and all aspects of commerce and e-commerce continue to benefit the industry
- Working with Government to maximise the benefit and exposure our members receive from the Creative Economy Programme
- Promoting the UK’s world-beating publishing industry in terms of its economic, cultural, social, scientific and educational contribution to both society and UK plc
To achieve these aims the PA acts to influence UK government policy through numerous channels. It promotes collective action by coalitions of publisher trade associations, authors and collecting societies on relevant pieces of legislation, such as the Digital Economy Act, and builds direct relationships with elected officials in the UK and at the European level. These policy relationships include the briefing of UK Government Select Committees on relevant issues, holding parliamentary receptions and events and liaising with MPs, MEPS and Commissioners.
In 2011, representatives of the PA had a total of 14 meetings with key government officials to discuss issues of IP, trade and investment, research, copyright, and publishing, including with David Willetts MP (Minister of State); Judith Wilcox (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State), Vincent Cable MP (Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills) and six meetings with Ed Vaizey MP (Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries).
In March 2012 the PA responded to the Intellectual Property Office's Consultation on Copyright (itself in response to the Hargreaves Review), by calling for 'further research and economic assessment'. The Chief Executive of the PA, Richard Mollet, outlined the P's position as 'firmly supporting the proposal for the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange, which will add transparency and ease to the way that rights information is gathered and exchanged, and will improve our copyright framework. The DCE could solve many of the problems with digital licensing. It is a more nuanced instrument than the radical erosion of copyright which is currently subject to consultation'.