Laws and Legislations for Publishing and Printing Industries in the Asia Pacific Countries



Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
Vice-President, APPA
Chairman, APPA Legal, Copyright
And Licensing Committee

(on the occasion of the 17th APPA Publishing Forum, July 3, 2009 at Ulaanbataar, Mongolia)


Considering that it may not be practicable to discuss laws and legislations in general affecting the publishing and printing industries in the vast Asia Pacific with no particular applications to certain issues, the best alternative is to confine discussion to APPA member-countries on particular issues affecting them to hopefully serve as a basis for the formulation of laws and legislations based on the advocacy of the concerned national book publishing association(s) or if necessary with the endorsement of APPA and/or the International Publishers Association (IPA).


In the light of the foregoing, the best source to ascertain the prevailing issues would be from the member-countries’ reports during the preceding year which are now in our possession.


Let me begin with the Philippines. It appears to have many beautiful laws like “The Book Publishing Industry Development Act” RA 8047 (Book Act) but the important provisions thereof need implementation.


Its primordial purpose is to come up with affordable, accessible and quality laden books including textbooks with the participation of the private sector to satisfy domestic and export requirements.


Recently, there was a proposal from government through its Department of Finance to impose custom duties on imported books.


The imposition was suspended by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because of the wide-spread clamor from various sectors of society as triggered by the consolidated efforts of the private sector in the book trade and publishing.


The latter argued on the pertinent provisions of the Book Act and the Florence Agreement (Agreement) to serve as their justifications against the imposition.


The impositions , if implemented, would bring about a correlative increase in the price of books violative of the affordability aspect of the Book Act and the free flow of information doctrine of the Agreement.


As an offshoot also of the Book Act, a corollary law was passed this year entitled “An Act Creating A National Book Development Trust Fund to Support Filipino Authorship” or RA 9521 which shall provide the country’s writers with huge financial assistance for the publication of materials wherein there is scarcity.


Meaning to say, many subsidiary legislations and/or regulatory emanating from the Book Act have been passed which brought about noteworthy benefits to the publishing and printing industries.


There still are, however, important provisions in the Book Act (specifically Sections 10 and 11) which remain unimplemented for fifteen (15) years now.


I refer to the supply of textbooks to the public schools by the private sector which comprises around eighty five percent (85%) of the total student population or twenty two million students in absolute figures.


If this would materialize, it is anticipated to bring about the proliferation of more writers, publishers, printers, bookstores and other creative agencies which by reason of competition under a levelled playing field would hopefully bring about the best intellectual output for the ultimate benefit of our citizenry.


Due to the World Bank’s stringent loan requirements, only one publisher could supply the public school market to reiterate, over the preceding fifteen (15) years thus negating the supposed enhancement of the local book publishing industry as envisioned by the Book Act and which is anticipated to alleviate poverty which in fact is the primary objective of the World Bank.


On the other hand, the remaining fifteen percent (15%) of the student population in the private schools which is open to the other publishers is characterized by “cutthroat competition.” The supposed government agency tasked to enforce the private sector’s agreement to have uniformity in discount on the supply of elementary and secondary textbooks in the private schools so that the competition would be based on merits and not on the discounts to bring about stability in prices and come up with quality publications is adopting a hands off policy.


The private sector once more was therefore compelled to present a legislative proposal which is now Senate Bill 689 entitled “An Act Adopting a Retail Price Maintenance and Uniform Discounting Scheme in Book Trade with the End in View of Ensuring Affordable, Accessible and Quality-laden Textbooks and Other Related Educational Materials to be Used By Private and Public Schools” which is likened to the Resale Price Maintenance Law in Japan and Korea.


Another provision of SB 689 is to provide incentives for the opening of more bookstores in remote areas outside of the key cities to help in the distribution of public school textbooks which would inevitably bring about social and economic benefits to these areas.


In view of the foregoing, the Philippines which has a population of ninety one million (91M) was able to come up with only 5,000 to 6,000 titles during the preceding year.


In short, we have a beautiful law in publishing and printing but it does not contribute to the upliftment of the industry due to the non-implementation of its important provision.


On the printing industry, the Philippines during this year is proud to have initiated the incorporation of the Federation of the Associations in Asian Pacific of Graphic Arts Technologists (FAGAT) which has been existing for almost a decade now under a nonbinding relationship among members to hopefully become an effective international organization of printers with orderly governance through the formulation of appropriate Constitution and By-laws.


The draft of the proposed FAGAT’s Constitution and By-laws is now being considered for approval by the following member-countries: Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Sri-Lanka which hopefully shall be approved during the next General Assembly in Japan this coming November.


Allow me to briefly quote the issues cited by the APPA member-countries in the previous year’s respective country reports.


In Indonesia which has around two hundred thirty million (230 M) citizens, it has produced around fifteen thousand (15,000) titles during the preceding year.


Its government in its quest to reduce prices of textbooks pursued a massive purchase of textbook copyright from private publishers which would be uploaded through the internet to be downloaded by the ultimate buyers together with the mandate that publishers should not communicate with the schools concerned.


This scenario appears to be derogatory to the growth of the local book publishing industry. Publishers are stripped off of their inherent rights as supposed owners to set prices on their textbooks to obtain profit, to negotiate directly with its clients to ascertain the acceptability of its publications for possible improvement, etc. or maybe even the prerogative to determine the percentage of royalty they would require.


It cannot be denied that textbook publishing because of its built-in demand provides impetus on the proliferation of more publications.


In Japan which has a population of one hundred twenty eight million (128 M) has come up during the preceding year with seventy seven thousand four hundred seventeen titles (77,417) new titles. Their concerns relate to copyright limitations.


Though there may be a need for those with disabilities to enjoy copyright materials, there may be a need to clearly define who are physically impaired and unimpaired in order not to undermine authors’ and publishers’ profit.


On the proposition that pharmaceutical companies would be allowed to photocopy free of charge medical journals and books when they request to provide healthcare professionals when they request recent medical information, they should equally be required to pay these journals considering that there are monetary considerations in the preparation of the same.


The proposal to increase copyright protection from fifty years to seventy years is also being opposed. The plan of the National Diet Library to digitalize their collection which are out of print is also being opposed. It is claimed that all books now can be procured on print-on-demand.


With regard to Korea, with a population of more than forty eight million (48 M), which produced fifty three thousand two hundred twenty five (53,225) titles during the preceding year, they oppose the Korea-US FTA which would extend copyright protection for another twenty (20) years. It is claimed that the move would satisfy “American’s interests or demands only.”


Another issues are the weakening of the resale price maintenance by reducing to 18 months its application after the publication and to 10% discount; bankruptcy among small and medium bookstores and the weakening of the print publications amidst the entry of digital video and games.


Malaysia which has a population of twenty seven million (27 M) had published eleven thousand six hundred twenty three (11,623) titles during the preceding year.


Syllabus-based publishers are experiencing a downtrend in the recent 100% free textbook-on-loan scheme policy for all school children. This policy caused the open market for school textbooks to vanish as textbooks are being recycled. In addition, these approved textbooks used in all schools have jst been revised recently, thus causing a significant drop in the use of supplementary books and workbooks.


Brunei which has a population of three hundred eighty thousand (380,000) has no statistics on the number of titles produced during the preceding year.


The Language and Literature Bureau or Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka which is a government institution under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is in charge of the publication of books used in the school curriculum.


Although the Ministry of Education also contracted foreign publishers, to name a few: Macmillan Publishers Ltd (Malaysia) for English and Geography books for primary 1-6, Pan Pacific Publication and EPB Pan Pacific (Malaysia) publishes Mathematics, History and Science for Secondary Schools, Pearson Education South East Asia Pte Ltd publishes Science Books/Workbooks, Marshall Cavendish Malaysia publishes Smart Mathematics Workbook for Primary 6, Federal Publication and Oxford University Press.


There are very few private publishers in Brunei Darussalam. The largest private publishing house is Brunei Press Pte. Ltd. The limited publishing houses/companies in Brunei are partly attributed to security measures imposed where publication in Brunei Darussalam is controlled under the Internal Security of Ministry of Home Affairs. Every publication by a private person or private sector must obtain permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.


Sri Lanka has a population of twenty one million (21 M) has produced four thousand (4,000) titles n the preceding year.


Pakistan with a population of one hundred seventy two million (172 M) produced around two thousand (2,000) titles during the preceding year. The total enrolment in schools is around thirty three million (33 M) plus. It is noteworthy to point out that the private sector is involved in the supply of textbooks in the primary and secondary schools.


Australia which has a round twenty one million (21M) population appears to have a very robust publishing industry.


India has a population of one billion one hundred forty seven million (1.147B) that produces an average of eighty thousand (80,000) titles a year. Again, this country has a robust book publishing industry.


China which has a population of one billion three hundred twenty eight million(1.328B) produced two hundred thirty three thousand nine hundred seventy one (233,971) new titles in the preceding year. Their focus now is not on quantity but on quality.


Vietnam which has a population of eighty six million (86 M) produces twenty six thousand six hundred nine (26,609) titles with print runs of 276,000 copies during the preceding year.


On the issues presented above, the following IPA Resolutions and corresponding Specific Demands formulated during the 28th IPA Congress in Seoul Korea on May 15, 2008 maybe applicable on the following countries:






“3. Publishers play an important creative role in the development of knowledge.  Copyright remains an essential cornerstone for publishing in the information society.  Most importantly it must remain a tool supporting the livelihoods of both authors and publishers alike.  The Congress therefore calls on all stakeholders to ensure that copyright remains strong and fair.  Furthermore, national governments must enforce copyright laws.


4. The Congress calls on governments to collaborate closely with local publishers to develop legal and policy frameworks enabling writers and publishers to develop their skills to the benefit of society as a whole.  National book policy, education and literacy promotion belong together.


5. The Congress calls for recognition of the important role played by non government publishers in textbook publishing.  Governments must promote free and non government publishing as the most efficient way of providing high-quality and need-oriented educational books to students, serving as a starting base for the development of a sustainable and dynamic local publishing industry.”






F. World Bank support for local publishers:  The Congress urges the World Bank and other donor organizations to recognize the role of local publishers in providing books for educational programmes.

G. Appropriate textbook prices:  the Congress recognizes the need for affordable textbooks and acknowledges the contribution that publishers can make, and have made, to reduce textbook prices.  The Congress therefore asks governments to assume in turn their share of the responsibility by giving the highest priority to supporting schools and school children in order to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”


“5. The Congress calls for recognition of the important role played by non government publishers in textbook publishing.  Governments must promote free and non government publishing as the most efficient way of providing high-quality and need-oriented educational books to students, serving as a starting base for the development of a sustainable and dynamic local publishing industry.


“3. Publishers play an important creative role in the development of knowledge.  Copyright remains an essential cornerstone for publishing in the information society.  Most importantly it must remain a tool supporting the livelihoods of both authors and publishers alike.  The Congress therefore calls on all stakeholders to ensure that copyright remains strong and fair.  Furthermore, national governments must enforce copyright laws.”


“4. The Congress calls on governments to collaborate closely with local publishers to develop legal and policy frameworks enabling writers and publishers to develop their skills to the benefit of society as a whole.  National book policy, education and literacy promotion belong together.”


“5. The Congress calls for recognition of the important role played by non government publishers in textbook publishing.  Governments must promote free and non government publishing as the most efficient way of providing high-quality and need-oriented educational books to students, serving as a starting base for the development of a sustainable and dynamic local publishing industry.”


“5.  The Congress calls for recognition of the important role played by non government publishers in textbook publishing.  Governments must promote free and non government publishing as the most efficient way of providing high-quality and need-oriented educational books to students, serving as a starting base for the development of a sustainable and dynamic local publishing industry.”



Leave a Comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Insert an advertisement TheTYME Iron is a revolutionary hair tool that creates ANY curl from waves to bouncy curls and ringlets, and also straightens your hair with its rotating swivel cord! Now you can create a beautiful head of curls in a matter of minutes! Even better, the curls should last 2-3 days!