The International Publishers Association (IPA) is an international publishing industry federation representing book and journal publishing. Founded in 1896 to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing in the context of economic, cultural and political development. The IPA actively opposes censorship and promotes copyright, literacy and the freedom to publish.
The IPA is based in Geneva, Switzerland and represents the interests of the publishing industry at international level.
Founded in 1896 in Paris, France, by the leading publishers at that time the initial aim of the IPA was to ensure that countries throughout the world adopted copyright law and implemented the new international copyright treaty, the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The promotion of copyright remains one of the IPA's main objective. Since its establishment the IPA also promotes and defends the freedom to publish, which it describes as "fundamental aspect of the human right to freedom of expression. As an industry association the deals with a range of issues affecting publishers, such as book fairs and standard development. The IPA also functions as a meeting place for publishers to network and conduct business.
The IPA is a federation of national, regional and specialist publishers' associations. The IPA has more than 60 organisational members from more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.
The IPA has consultative status as non-governmental organisation at the United Nations.
Freedom to Publish Committee
International Publishers Copyright Council (IPCC) (in conjunction with the IASTMP)
The General Assembly is the governing body. The assembly is composed of two representatives from each country; each is allowed a vote in assembly decisions. Individual country associations vote to send their delegates. The assembly meets at least once a year, usually at the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the General Assembly, current issues and concerns in the publishing industry are discussed and positions taken.
The President is elected by the General Assembly and has a term of two years. He or she is the head of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee. The executive committee, composed of a select number of General Assembly members, formulates plans and policies for the General Assembly to discuss and vote on. The IPA also elects a Vice President and regional representatives. A Secretary General acts as the chief operating officer of the IPA and is its spokesperson and liaison.
Since 1986 the IPA host the IPA Copyright Symposium ever four years. The first Copyright Symposium was held in 1986, Heidelberg, Germany, to mark the centenary of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The Copyright Symposiums are held in partnership with IPA member organisations.
7th Copyright Symposium 2010, Abu Dhabi
28 February to 1 March 2010 Abu Dhabi hosted the 7th Copyright Symposium 2010, held for the first time in the Arab world. Attended by 270 delegates from 53 countries, the two day symposium was attended by government officials, legal experts, publishers and authors. Plenary speeches and seminars covered topics such as copyright and Islamic law, publishing in the internet age, collective licensing, the digital market place, global copyright trends and the future of copyright in emerging markets. The symposium was held immediately before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, 2 to 7 March.
Freedom to Publish
One of the IPA's main goals is to protect the right of publishers to produce and distribute the materials they choose to. In other words, to protect their basic human right to freedom of expression. The IPA bases its beliefs on the following human rights standards:
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The IPA website offers links to many websites dealing with the freedom to publish, such as AAP International's Freedom to Publish Committee, Amnesty International, and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).
The IPA began working with IFEX in 2004. IFEX was established in 1992 to combat all the offenses that were taking place against freedom of expression. It has 81 member organizations and monitors and reports violations using an Action Alert Network (AAN). This network allows members throughout the world to campaign against violations using tools such as letter writing campaigns, media coverage, and awareness-raising events. Many of the organizations' actions are focused on freeing imprisoned journalists and keeping journalists around the world safe.
Google Print Library Project
In 2005 IPA issues a joint statement with PEN USA on the Google Print Library Project. The statement raised concerns that Google is disregarding the rights of authors and is infringing copyright law. In the statement the two organisations asserts the rights of an author to determine whether their work will be available in a digital format. The statement raises the concern that once materials are available digitally it is hard to monitor how many copies are produced, which is an infringement of copyright legislation. The IPA and PEN USA call for Google to obtain author permission before making works available in the Google Print Library Project. They also wish for Google to work more closely with authors to make sure that authors’ rights are not violated.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
In March 2007 the IPA met World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) delegates and committed to work with WIPO to protect copyright in a way that would still allow creativity to prosper. Dr. Kamil Idris, the Director General of the WIPO said, "The importance of copyright to the culture-based industries is undisputed. The challenge is to create a legal environment that allows these industries to flourish in a balanced way and keeps up with the technological advances that are driving new business models and distribution channels”.
Free Book Circulation
Part of the IPA’s mission is to distribute free literary materials to those in need. To fulfill this mission the IPA works closely with UNESCO. The IPA supports the Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Materials (1950) and the Nairobi Protocol (1976). These international treaties allow for the free circulation of educational, scientific, and cultural materials without customs fees. Ninety-eight countries around the world have signed the Florence Agreement.
The IPA also helped establish UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day. The purpose of this day is to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright .
One of the main functions of the IPA is to inform its members of publishing related issues. The organization regularly publishes newsletters and press releases on current issues in the industry, such as the persecutions of publishers and journalists around the world. The IPA also provides legal assistance for publishers who are being prosecuted, lobbies for new legislation that supports the freedom to distribute information, and monitors the internet for copyright violations. It also produces papers and position statements on issues relating to copyright.