New Delhi, Jan 19 (Agencies): Top publishing associations supported by well-known authors Wednesday launched sought a review of the proposed amendment in the Copyright Amendment Bill which makes it possible for books published outside India to be sold here without infringing copyright.

Authors Gurcharan Das, Jaishree Mishra and William Dalrymple among others and publishers represented by Association of Publishers in India (API) and Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) launched a signature campaign that is intended to garner support and sensitise publishers, authors and readers across the country.

"If the proposed amendment is accepted, the prices of textbooks with international content which are now available in India at one tenth of the price of that in other countries will jump 10 fold and leave the student and the academic community disadvantaged as they rely on low-priced editions with latest content," said API president Sanjiv Goswami.

The HRD Ministry, has proposed a bill with amendments to the existing Copyright Act (Indian Copyright Act of 1957) and tabled in Parliament on November 23 last year. The bill is currently recommended by the Standing Committee and is expected to be tabled in the next Parliament session.

Publishers say the bill's amendment - which relates to eliminating territorial rights for book content - if passed would seriously impact all publishers and authors by legalising parallel imports thereby turning India into an "open market".

"We want the Ministry to retain section 2(M) of the Copyright Act and not accept the proposed amendment recommended by the Standing Committee," said FIP president Anand Bhushsn.

Author Das pointed out, "The world is moving towards free trade where protectionism is a bad word. The government seems to have not realised that with this amendment everybody -authors, publishers and readers - are going to be losers."

In the publishing industry, authors get different royalty revenues based on the exclusive publishing rights they give to different publishers in different territories or countries. Publishers who buy rights for India invest in building a book and author to maximise sales and they are protected by law against infringement by parallel imports from other countries.

The proposed amendment seeks to undo all this and render India as an open market where books can be dumped disregarding the copyright holder's wishes.

Experts point out that apart from affecting the publishers, authors would also stand to lose out.

"If the publishers feel threatened due to competing editions entering the market they might invest less or rather not enter the market at all which would mean lower readership," said Bhushan.