A guide of this nature would not be complete without reference to the status of copyright, which is the life-blood of the publishing industry and without which that industry would not exist in any meaningful form. Copyright laws and regimes around the world are highly variable, and it is not the business of the present guide to enter into detail about particular copyright environments; though it is starkly true that in the new digital world copyright is under unprecedented and constant threat, while in some countries legislation is being weakened to the great detriment of creators and the organisations that disseminate their work.
Enforcement of copyright is challenging and varies widely, and physical book piracy, whether in complete book form or through extensive photocopying, remains a widespread and chronic problem in some parts of the developing world, a fact which can be underestimated in the developed world because of the global prevalence of digital piracy. Its main impact is upon the sales of legitimate editions of core university texts, though it can also affect educational set texts and popular fiction and non-fiction. The most concerning incidence lies in parts of the Middle East, and S and E Asia, where the market damage can be devastating; but in Africa it appears to affect secondary texts and supplementary readers as well as the tertiary sector. The Publishers Association in the UK, and the Association of American Publishers, have for many years devised and implemented campaigns to counter physical and digital piracy in a range of territories, in co-operation with local industry associations and other agents. A constant obstacle to these efforts is the lack of local recognition of the damage done by piracy to indigenous creators, culture, education and the creative industries.
Research carried out by any publisher seeking to gain market access should routinely include enquiries about the copyright regime and enforcement in the territory concerned, especially in the regions noted above; and the publisher should include in their assessment the position of a potential partner on the question of copyright enforcement. These enquiries will have the additional benefit of indicating the publisher’s awareness of the need to be informed on the subject, and of the priority given to that factor by the publisher.