Malcolm Turnbull’s autobiography pirated ahead of release

Publisher Hardie Grant has sent out legal warnings after pirated copies of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s highly anticipated autobiography began circulating among politicians and staffers ahead of it’s release.

In a statement Hardie Grant said on Saturday evening they became aware that a pirated copy of Turnbull’s, A Bigger Picture, was being circulated to government employees.

CEO Sandy Grant said the illegal  copies appeared to have come from an email address within the Prime Minister’s office.

“What drew this to our attention was the distribution of the pirated edition from an address from within the PMO, sent to people who reported the illegal edition.”

The publisher alleged that the staffer in the PM’s office had claimed to have sent the book to multiple people. Within hours of being alerted to the distribution of the illegal version of the book to government staffers and at least one Liberal MP, Hardie Grant’s ’s law firm, HWL Ebsworth, sent a cease and desist notice to a staff member in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Piracy is a problem for bestselling books and our lawyers have taken immediate action to make it clear we intend to take action against the person seemingly distributing A Bigger Picture widely and illegally, as a well as any site sharing the file”, said Grant.

There is no suggestion that Prime Minister Scott Morrison was responsible for the distribution of the book or was aware of the alleged illegal distribution. The Prime Minister’s Office have been contacted for comment.

Michael Gordon-Smith, Chief Executive of the Australian Publishers Association (APA) said people working in government should be setting an example of upholding the law, rather than breaking it.

“Everyone in government, and especially anyone with a leadership role, has an obligation not just to observe the law but to uphold it. As the resignation of Don Harwin from the NSW cabinet shows, this is a time when governments should not tolerate behaviour that risks any suggestion that laws do not apply equally to us all.”

The APA said the  illegal distribution of the ebook signifies a massive breach of intellectual property right, a problem that effects many bestselling books throughout the industry.

The APA said it was disappointing that at a time when publishers and independent bookshops were struggling to be viable due to the COVID-19 outbreak, government staffers appeared to be undermining the industry by promoting piracy.

“Illegal copying erodes the viability of publishing businesses and the livelihood of authors even at the best of times. It does more damage at a time when publishers are suffering massive reductions in revenue, reducing working hours and laying off staff; authors are unable to attend book tours; and writers festivals have closed,” Michael Gordon-Smith said.

While some extracts from the book were published ahead of it’s release in Nine newspaper’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, and in the Guardian, unauthorised segments were also published in The Australian.

A Bigger Picture is due to be released in physical and electronic formats on Monday 20 April 2020.

OIP Staff

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