Publishing & Censorship

“Engaging the Threats Against Freedom to Publish”

The following editorial in Publishing Perspectives by Richard Charkin, Director of Bloomsbury and President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), highlights the dangers faced by publishers worldwide in their fight against Global corporate and governmental censorship at a time when publishing is at its most technologically advanced in human history. And with the apparent shift in many parts of the world towards establishing governments on the political right, the exercise of freedom of speech and ‘freedom to publish’ is under attack.

Organizations such as the IPA are crucial in helping to curb excesses and abuses by the power elite relative to publishers – whether they be small independent bloggers, magazines and other news channels  or large daily news publications and book publishers. As access to technology and particularly to the internet continues to spread across the globe right down to tiny remote villages in Asia, Africa and South America, it likely will become much more difficult for governments and large corporations to continue to operate under a veil of secrecy – something many may feel they must have if they are to maximize profits especially if those profits were built on the backs of oppressed  peoples. And the prying eyes of the media are often threatening to these interests.

A portion of Richard Charkin’s editorial follows. The rest is printed in the Publishing Perspectives magazine. Just click on the ‘read more’ link below. – G.L. Dorion

 “Why publishers in countries with ‘inglorious track records on freedom to publish’ deserve the IPA’s support. Editorial by Richard Charkin, Director of Bloomsbury and President of the International Publishers Association.


Richard Charkin

“The International Publishers Association (IPA) exists for two main reasons: to protect copyright wherever it is threatened (and it is under threat from many directions with many motives) and to support our members and the industry against restrictions on freedom to publish. There would be no recognizable freedom to publish without a vibrant industry, and that depends on copyright. Our two responsibilities are inextricably intertwined. I want to focus on the second of these, which came under the spotlight with the expansion of our membership at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, and included publishers’ associations from some countries with inglorious track records on freedom to publish. There are those who feel that we should exclude these associations until they can show tangible evidence of progress. Others feel that it is our duty to engage with them as closely and as soon as possible to help our publisher colleagues in these countries. This latter course is the one we at IPA are following.

“The publishing industry in democratic countries and elsewhere needs to be on constant alert.” – Richard Charkin

“We cannot claim that our activities have been able to halt the abhorrent activities of some governments, but we have been able to highlight their activities and the importance of publishing to economic, social and cultural development. We hope this leads to a more liberal future. This year alone, we have had to deal with the absurdity of the Vatican’s attempts to silence its critics through intimidation and the courts; the abduction to China of the Hong Kong booksellers and publishers; the arrested Bangladeshi publisher, Shamsuzzoha Manik; the gagging of a number of Egyptian authors and journalists in a worrying backslide into pre-Arab Spring authoritarianism; the arrest of Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan and the summary closure of many Turkish publishing companies, as well as the arrests of their owners and managers; and a growing concern over the potential for censorship by the major technology companies as evidenced by the recent farcical Facebook excision of one of the great pieces of photojournalism from the Vietnam War.

“We have visited Saudi Arabia, where the local publishers association has established a freedom to publish committee, and we awarded the first IPA Prix Voltaire prize to the imprisoned and flogged writer, blogger and online debate forum publisher Raif Badawi. We have visited Bangladesh twice to protest the dreadful murders and arrests of writers and publishers and the muted government response to them. We have been approached by many publishers associations in emerging economies wanting to join, not least because of our freedom to publish activities.
Read More at Publishing Perspectives


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