Under the Copyright Act 1968, authors and publishers who create a book are automatically entitled to a number of ‘exclusive rights’ over their work. Copyright protection of a book makes it illegal for others to make copies of that book without the permission of the copyright holder. Other provisions in the Copyright Act — the ‘parallel import restrictions’ — provide copyright holders with additional rights. They allow Australian copyright holders to prevent the importation for sale of copies of their works that have been legally produced and purchased overseas.
A number of other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, also have parallel import restrictions. In effect, these additional rights allow copyright holders to ‘segment’ international markets, which in theory may allow them to charge different prices or royalties in different markets without the risk that prices in any one market will be undercut by (cheaper) imports of the same book from other markets.
This study is about whether Australia’s parallel import restrictions are justified.