International Publishers Association

The International Publishers Association (IPA) is an international publishing industry federation of national publisher associations representing book and journal publishing. It is a non-profit and non-governmental organization, founded in 1896 to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing in the context of economic, cultural and political development. The IPA actively opposes censorship and promotes copyright, literacy and the freedom to publish,[1] and represents the interests of the publishing industry at international level.[2]



Founded in 1896 in Paris, France, by the leading publishers at that time the initial aim of the IPA was to ensure that countries throughout the world adopted copyright law and implemented the then new international copyright treaty, the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

The IPA, active mostly in Europe during its first century, provided a platform for national publishers to voice their concerns for future important issues. From its first year, IPA members called to countries to eliminate custom duties to intellectual products, and the tenth Congress in 1933 dealt for the first time with book fairs.

In 1962, the IPA’s headquarters moved from Zurich to Geneva. In the same year, at the Barcelona Congress, regular connections with UNESCO were established.

The promotion of copyright remains one of the IPA's main objectives. Since its establishment the IPA also promotes and defends the freedom to publish, which it describes as a "fundamental aspect of the human right to freedom of expression. As an industry association IPA continues to deal with a range of issues affecting publishers, such as book fairs, standards, piracy, literacy, textbook procurement policy, collective licensing, VAT, professional training, and promotion of reading. The IPA also functions as a meeting place for publishers to network and conduct business.[2]


The IPA is a federation of national, regional and specialist publishers' associations. The IPA has more than 60 organisational members from more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.[2] It has consultative status as non-governmental organisation at the United Nations.[2]


  • Copyright Committee
  • Freedom to Publish Committee
  • Literacy & Book Industry Policy Committee
  • International Education Publishers Forum

Governing Bodies

The General Assembly is the governing body. The assembly is composed of two representatives of the publishers association from each country; each is allowed a vote in assembly decisions. The assembly meets at least once a year, usually at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The President is elected by the General Assembly and has a term of two years. He or she is the head of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee. The Executive committee formulates plans and policies for the General Assembly to discuss and vote on. The IPA also elects two Vice Presidents and regional representatives. A Secretary General acts as the chief operating officer.

The President for 2019–2021 is Hugo Setzer (Manual Moderno , Spain), and the Vice President is Bodour Al Qasimi (Kalimat Group , UAE). The current Secretary General is José Borghino.[3]

List of IPA Presidents

  • 1962–1966: Santiago Salvat Espasa
  • 1980–1984: Manuel Salvat Dalmau
  • 1988–1992: Andrew Neilly
  • 1992–1996: Fernando Guedes
  • 1996–2000: Alan Gründ
  • 2000–2004: Pere Vicens
  • 2004–2008: Ana Maria Cabanellas
  • 2009–2010: Herman P. Spruijt
  • 2011–2014: Youngsuk “Y.S.” Chi
  • 2015–2017: Richard Charkin
  • 2017–2019: Dr Michiel Kolman
  • 2019–2021: Hugo Setzer
  • 2021–2023: Bodour Al Qasimi

Associated organizations

IPA has official consultative status with United Nations organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Recently, IPA has participated in the WIPO Stakeholder Platform,[4] an initiative to explore the specific needs and concerns of copyright owners and reading-impaired persons.

IPA also has regular connections with industry and regulatory organizations. These include national publisher associations, organizations representing special consumer interests, and reproduction rights organizations which essentially collect license fees for rights holders. For example, IPA is an associate member of the International Federation for Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) and since 2004, represents publisher interests on the IFRRO Board. It is also a member of International Standard organizations EDItEUR and International ISBN Agency.


IPA organizes a Publishers Congress every four years, starting from 1896 in Paris, France, where publishers fully and openly discuss relevant, basic, and long-term industry problems and challenges.

2008 Publishers Congress, Seoul

The 28th Congress attracted nearly 700 participants form over 45 countries. In its resolution, the Congress expressed the need for reform in the freedom to publish in Burma/Myanmar, China, Iran, and Vietnam, calling for the immediate release of Publishers, writers, journalists and bloggers in prison or under house arrest for having exercised their rights to freedom of expression.[5]

Copyright Symposiums

The IPA host a Copyright Symposium every four years. The first Copyright Symposium was held in 1986, Heidelberg, Germany, to mark the centenary of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The Copyright Symposia are held in partnership with IPA member organisations.[6]

7th Copyright Symposium 2010, Abu Dhabi

From 28 February to 1 March 2010, Abu Dhabi hosted the 7th Copyright Symposium 2010, held for the first time in the Arab world. Attended by 270 delegates from 53 countries, the two-day symposium was attended by government officials, legal experts, publishers and authors. Plenary speeches and seminars covered topics such as copyright and Islamic law, publishing in the internet age, collective licensing, the digital market place, global copyright trends and the future of copyright in emerging markets. The symposium was held immediately before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, 2 to 7 March.[6]

Freedom to Publish

One of the IPA's main goals is to protect the right of publishers to produce and distribute the materials they choose to. In other words, to protect their basic human right to freedom of expression. The IPA bases its beliefs on the following human rights standards:

The IPA website offers links to many websites dealing with the freedom to publish, such as AAP International's Freedom to Publish Committee, Amnesty International, and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).

The IPA began working with IFEX in 2004. IFEX was established in 1992 to combat all the offenses that were taking place against freedom of expression. It has 81 member organizations and monitors and reports violations using an Action Alert Network (AAN). This network allows members throughout the world to campaign against violations using tools such as letter writing campaigns, media coverage, and awareness-raising events. Many of the organizations' actions are focused on freeing imprisoned journalists and keeping journalists around the world safe.

IPA Prix Voltaire

The IPA has been awarding the IPA Prix Voltaire (known until 2016 as the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize)[7] annually since 2005, to honour a person or an organization anywhere in the world that has defended and promoted the freedom publish with courage. It consists of a monetary award and a certificate. The list of past winners is as follows.

2011 recipient Bui Chat was arrested by Vietnam authorities shortly after his return from Buenos Aires, where he received his prize. Though temporarily released in May, he is still subject to surveillance and further interrogation.[24]

Prohibition of Religious Defamation

In 2008 the IPA adopted a resolution against prohibiting religious defamation, in light of the UN Ad Hoc Committee session on complementary Standards called at the initiative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Later in 2009 the forum passed a resolution condemning religious defamation as a human rights violation, also noting that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violation and terrorism.”[25] In a 2010 Press Release, the IPA stated that “Human Rights protect individual human beings, not institutions or religions. Criticism of religions and religious practices must be allowed, in particular when religions are viewed from a political point of view. As organizations representing writers, artists and journalists of all faiths and none, we warn against any regulations prohibiting criticism of any religion or any set of ideas.”[26]


Google Books Project

In 2005 IPA issued a joint statement with PEN USA on the Google Books Project. The statement raised concerns that Google is disregarding the rights of authors and is infringing copyright law. In the statement the two organisations asserts the rights of an author to determine whether their work will be available in a digital format. The statement raises the concern that once materials are available digitally it is hard to monitor how many copies are produced, which is an infringement of copyright legislation. The IPA and PEN USA call for Google to obtain author permission before making works available in the Google Print Library Project. They also wish for Google to work more closely with authors to make sure that authors’ rights are not violated.[27]

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

World Blind Union (WBU)

The IPA collaborates closely with the World Blind Union and other interests of persons with print disabilities. Since 2009 WBU, among other related organizations, and rights holder organizations such as IPA have discussed in the WIPO Stakeholder Platform to discuss without the interference of international organization politics. Since March 2011 the collaboration in this forum is suspended.

Folklore Protection

Protecting Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Folklore may be a concern for Publishers that publish fairy tales and traditional stories, school books with reference to local customs, or related scientific journal articles. There have been several international efforts for special protection of traditional folklore, notably by WIPO and UNESCO. Currently, IPA participates in discussions through WIPO’s program for traditional cultural expressions. IPA tries to make sure the rights of freedom of expression and publisher’s positive impact relating to such cultural material are not threatened.[28]

Industry Policy

World Book Capital Cities

IPA proposed the idea of nominating one city a year as a World Book Capital, under which cities must promote books and foster books through various events, while conforming to the principles of freedom of expression, freedom to publish and to disseminate information.[29] The title enables the promotion and communication of the winning city and is also a symbolic achievement. A nominating committee (formed of IPA, IFLA, IBF and UNESCO) decides on the city each year. Following Madrid, Alexandria, and New Delhi, the current and past capitals are as follows. 2004: Antwerp (Belgium); 2005: Montreal (Canada); 2006: Turin (Italy); 2007: Bogotá (Colombia); 2008: Amsterdam (The Netherlands); 2009: Beirut (Lebanon); 2010: Ljubljana (Slovenia); 2011: Buenos Aires (Argentina); 2012: Yerevan (Armenia).

Value Added Taxes (VAT)

The IPA advocates for favorable indirect tax systems such as VAT on publications of all formats. For VAT purposes IPA considers books should be “zero-rated.” Such policies have been already implemented in the UK, Norway, Korea, Mexico, Thailand. In its 2010 Global Survey for VAT/GST/Sales tax rates for books and electronic publications, it has been reported that 15 countries have exemptions for all books, 33 have reduced rates for all books, 26 have reduced or exemption for books with limitations, and 13 have no reductions that apply.[30]

International Standards

As an international federation, one of the activities of the IPA is to facilitate the setting of international standards in publishing. One of the most famous and most used international standards are ISBN and ISSN a unique multi-digit identifier for individual books and periodicals, respectively (both print and electronic)IPA is an observer to the International ISBN Agency Board and has the right to attend all board meetings to represent the publishing industry's interests. Other assisting organizations in the ISBN Agency include the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). IPA maintains liaison relationships with the ISO team working on information resources. Other systems the IPA supports through creator organizations are the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP) and ONIX. It is a charter member of EDItEUR, an international organization coordinating standard setting for electronic publications,[31]

Educational Publishing

The IPA created the International Educational Publishers Forum to support a sustainable educational publishing industry. Digital Migration of educational material, a topic associated with curriculum change, new technologies, and piracy prevention, has been a recent issue in this forum. The forum’s main aim is to voice effectively the benefits of an innovative, diverse and high quality publishing industry in open markets.

Free Book Circulation

Part of the IPA’s mission is to distribute free literary materials to those in need. To fulfill this mission the IPA maintains working relations with UNESCO. The IPA supports the Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials (1950) and the Nairobi Protocol (1976). These international treaties allow for the free circulation of educational, scientific, and cultural materials without customs fees. One hundred countries around the world have ratified the Florence Agreement.[32] The IPA also helped establish UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day. The purpose of this day is to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.[33]


  1. ^ "Home Page: International Publishers Association" . International Publishers Association. Retrieved 28 Feb 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Background – What is IPA?" . Archived from the original on 2010-05-11. Retrieved 28 Feb 2010.
  3. ^ "About: International Publishers Association ". International Publishers Association. Retrieved 14 Feb 2019.
  4. ^ "Stakeholders' Platform Launches Project to Facilitate Access by VIPs to Published Works" .
  5. ^ "28th_IPA_Resolutions" Archived 2011-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Press Release: Abu Dhabi hosts Arab world's first IPA Copyright Symposium under the theme: Evolving Rights Emerging Markets" . 27 Feb 2010. Retrieved 28 Feb 2010.
  7. ^ IPA Prix Voltaire , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  8. ^ Prix Voltaire 2020 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  9. ^ Porter Anderson, A Clandestine Press, Vietnam’s Liberal Publishing House Wins IPA’s 2020 Prix Voltaire , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  10. ^ Porter Anderson, IPA Seeks Presidential Pardon for Egyptian Prix Voltaire Winning Publisher Khaled Lotfy , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  11. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2018], Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  12. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2017 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  13. ^ "2016 Recipient" . International Publishers Association. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  14. ^ "2014 Recipient" . International Publishers Association. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  15. ^ International Publishers Association (IPA)'s official web page: IPA Freedom to Publish Prize 2012 recipient Archived 2013-04-24 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Bui Chat of Vietnam Wins IPA Freedom to Publish Prize" .
  17. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2010 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  18. ^ 2010 IPA FTP Prize Special Award , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  19. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2009 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  20. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2008 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  21. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2007 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  22. ^ 2007 IPA FTP Prize Special Award , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  23. ^ Prix Voltaire – 2006 , Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Vietnam Arrests Award-Winning Publisher" .
  25. ^ "Islam wrongly associated with human rights violations: OIC" . 13 March 2009.
  26. ^ Archived 2013-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Joint IPA-PEN USA Declaration" . International Publishers Association. 2005-10-20. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  28. ^ Archived 2012-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "origins-a-rationale" Archived 2012-03-24 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2011-06-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "EDItEUR" .
  32. ^ "" . Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  33. ^ "World Book and Copyright Day 2014 - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization" . Archived from the original on 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2020-01-25.

External links


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