Since the convening of the first National Writers’ Congress and the annual consultation meeting with publishers and other stakeholders held in 2019, the National Book Council has started the process to produce a legislative framework for the upholding of standards and professional mediation in the publishing industry. This process coincided with the adoption of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single-Market for which the National Book Council served as lead-entity in the Maltese Government’s negotiations at EU negotiations. Following a multi-pronged strategy, the National Book Council is presenting a holistic legislative framework which introduces basic standards in the industry and simultaneously transposes the legal provisions of the EU Directive.
The legislative framework is divided in four main parts:
1) With the aim of providing the National Book Council with more autonomy from the political arm of government, the legal notice establishing the National Book Council is being renewed as an Act of Parliament. This will also empower authors further by allowing them to decide on their policy-priorities within the National Writers’ Congress, and shall include illustrators as official stakeholders to the book industry. This bill is being published for a thirty-day consultation period with stakeholders.
2) The transposition of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market into domestic law. This will provide for the introduction of EU-standard mediation mechanisms and contractual standards in the industry, empower rights-holders against digital copyright infringement, empower CMOs to take collective decisions on commercial rights issues, and ensure that press publishers have the necessary legal rights relating to the online use of their works. This bill is being published for a thirty-day consultation period with stakeholders.
3) The enactment of the agreement with the Ministry for Education and Employment on the Educational Exception to provide rights-holders with rights payments over the use of their work in the public education system and ensure compliance with the said EU DSM Directive. This agreement is currently being finalised through discussions with education and Ministry representatives.
4) Fiscal incentives which incentivise industry stakeholders to adhere to professional standards, namely making authors’ royalty payments tax-free, and allowing publishers to claim a 200% tax refund over all royalty payments paid to authors. A legal notice on these tax incentives will be published following the 2020 Government Budget later this year.
The National Book Council invites stakeholders to provide their feedback to the draft legal acts. The contents of these acts have been formulated following lengthy consultation discussions with all stakeholders and during the Writers’ Congress over the past year. We confidently believe that we are presenting a professional legislative framework which will incentivise the industry to keep growing. Following the thirty-day period, the National Book Council will make any necessary changes which may be required to eventually present the bill to the Minister of Education.
We would like to thank all our stakeholders, professionals, technicians and lawyers who have helped us conclude this very lengthy and arduous process. It is only with all of your support that we may keep reiterating with the government the importance of sustaining and supporting the local book and publishing industry.