restrictions.jpgBack in March Book Bee had an article about how Australia’s parallel importation law does not restrict the import of ebooks into the country. The author, reporter Jason Davis, interviewed a “.. very senior member of the Australian publishing/bookselling industry this week. He asked that I didn’t reveal his name, so I’ll respect that. But, let’s be clear, this is the kind of guy the government talks to when considering matters that relate to the book industry here.”

According to Davis, “The upshot of the conversation is that there is no legal basis for anyone to restrict Australians from buying any ebook they like from anywhere they like. … the parallel importation restriction law – part of the Copyright Act 1968, that gets brought up in these conversations doesn’t even mention ebooks. And it doesn’t apply to consumers – only businesses importing products to resell.”

Davis has done a bit more research and found that Australians can, legally, access the entire iBooks catalog. You can find that information here.


  1. Devini – probably not true for Canada. To start with, all of the “big six” publishers have branch plants in Canada and they have enough leverage to ensure no ebook vendor sells what they do not want sold.

    If Canada passes proposed changes to the Copyright Act in the next session of Parliament, it will become a criminal act to break digital locks, which will enable more control over what Canadians may purchase. Canadian publishing is taking an unfortunate walk down the path laid by the music and DVD industries (which industries have been furiously lobbying for these restrictions in Ottawa, using the threat of trade sanctions to reinforce the pressure).

  2. I participate in several on-line ebook forums, and I have never seen a claim that an individual buying ebooks in another country breaks the law in the purchaser’s country – with the exception of Australia (where everyone seems to agree with JD that it is also legal).

    Sometimes there are claims that the misrepresentation needed to get around geo-restrictions are illegal (or questionable). These have nothing to do with DRM, though, since none of the popular ebook DRM schemes implement geographic controls.

    Overall, geo-restrictions are an agreement between publishers and ebook stores. The publishers won’t sell to the stores without this agreement, because their contracts with authors could be interpreted to require them. They have nothing to do with individual customers. This is unfortunate in a way, because it means that an individual can’t sue to have geo-restrictions removed.

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