Why should publishers care? A group of outstanding speakers tried to answer this question during the session I had the honour to chair on “Social Responsibility of Publishers”.
Mr. Dipendra Manocha, who works with the DAISY Consortium and is President of the National Association for the Blind in Delhi, talked about the famine of accessible books for visually impaired persons (VIP) and the need to change this reality. He described the Marrakesh Treaty as an important legal tool and praised publishers for their full support of this initiative and their openness to dialog with the blind organizations. One of the relevant features of the Marrakesh Treaty is that it is designed to give access to content to VIPs, while at the same time guaranteeing protection of copyright. He furthermore explained the importance of the work of the Accessible Books Consortium, a WIPO initiative which has the participation and support of IPA and other international organizations. The way to think of publishing for the future should be inclusive publishing so no users are excluded from access to our publications.
Ms.Sadhna Rout, the Director General of the Publications Division of the Government of India and longstanding civil servant who has worked in all social sector ministries and departments and with UN organizations, explained the government perspective. Ms. Rout talked about the way her organization views social responsibility as a provider of maximum knowledge-based awareness to the maximum number of people. For private publishers profits are of course important, but they have to see their mission in a more holistic way, taking into account all stakeholders.
Mr. Henrique Mota, who is the international representative of the Portuguese Publishers Association and the President of Federation of European Publishers, talked about the positive impact of books in society and the role of publishers delivering ensuring trustworthy publications. He said the professional publishers have the right to publish all books and to refuse to produce books that reject truth, knowledge and wisdom. The process of validating content is one of the important ways publishers add value.
The session analysed different approaches of social responsibility and agreed on the importance of working on the wellbeing of all stakeholders in a business. “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business” (Henry Ford). It offered also a nice link to the sessions to follow during the day on Copyright, Freedom to Publish and Educational Publishing.