An agreement to regularise the copying of printed material and the use of digital Maltese books in public schools was signed on Friday.

The agreement was signed between the Education Ministry, the National Book Council and the Malta Reprographic Rights Organisation.

It will see the regularisation and licensing of books in the education system, which will also protect publishers rights. 

Through it, publishers and authors will be compensated a total of €100,000 on a yearly basis for a 10% reprographic or digital use of each book published.

Speaking during the signing, Education Minister Justyne Caruana said the agreement is important both for the educational and national sectors, "as while we have the interest of students at heart, we also wish to invest in our book industry,".

The signing followed over a year of negotiations and consultations between the ministry, publishers’ representatives and the National Book Council.

“To have Maltese books for our children, we must have authors, editors and publishers who need protection, and we must bring all these interests together," said Caruana.

The agreement will apply to all of Malta’s public school and Church schools. The agreement does not apply to private schools and the University of Malta, which are legally obliged to make separate arrangements with the book industry. 

It will regulate the irregular and illegal use of reprography and digital use of books, a system which according to the National Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri “damages the book industry”. 

“The agreement will improve the rights of the book industry and to help it move forward, which is essential especially after this year,” Camilleri said, making reference to how the pandemic affected the industry.

Apart from Bulgaria, Malta was the only other EU country which did not follow the EU obligations of regularisation and licencing of books in the education system.

“It is long overdue that we follow these regulations, which we have been fighting for a long time,” said Camilleri.

The National Book Council will be the entity responsible for managing the process of handing the funds to the Malta Reprographic Rights Organisation, to be then distributed to publishers and authors in the scheme.

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