LAHORE: The Oxford University Press (OUP) declared Lahore the ‘centre of book piracy’ in a statement released on Thursday.
Following the launch of its counter-wide campaign against book pirates in December 2011, the OUP has conducted several raids in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) aiming to clamp down on piracy in the country.
“Laws against piracy are weak. The enforcement of these laws is weaker,” Ameena Saiyid, the OUP managing director, told The Express Tribune after the release of the statement.
Saiyid said it was unfortunate that the laws in Pakistan mandated weak punishments for piracy. “If a culprit is apprehended in India, the minimum punishment is a fine of Rs50,000. In Pakistan, the culprits are fined of Rs200,” she said. “How is this supposed to discourage piracy?”
She said 100,000 pirated books had been confiscated so far in the OUP-IPO raids in the country. Piracy was most active in Lahore, she added.
“We are pursuing the matter legally by registering FIRs against the offenders,” said told The Tribune, adding that the Federal Investigation Agency and police were supporting the campaign.
Saiyid said according to the law, the penalty for piracy increased every time the same publisher or individual was caught. It started with a small fine, leading up to bigger fines and imprisonment. “We need to enforce laws because they are the only effective deterrent against piracy”, she said.
She said though Pakistan had signed the Intellectual Property Rights Protocol, which required countries to set minimum standards for the protection of intellectual property, this law was not implemented effectively.
Mohammad Shoaib, manager of Sang-e-Meel Publications, said piracy could only be controlled by mobilising the government institutions concerned.
“We need relevant departments on our side to curb piracy,” he said, adding that monitoring could only be ensured by a central authority. Shoaib said that the increase in prices of book was the main reason that encouraged piracy and the people to buy pirated books. However, Saiyid said that many pirated books were being sold at the same price as the originals. She said that book publishers needed to invest heavily to produce good books. Piracy also deprived authors of royalty payments, and the losses they were suffering due to piracy were restricting their ability to do so, she said.
According to Saiyid’s estimate, the government suffered a Rs20 billion loss in sales tax per year due to piracy of intellectual property in various forms. The campaign will continue till March 2012, though Saiyid added, “We are committed. We will continue as long as it takes to wipe out piracy from the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012.