Indonesian government wants to buy text book copyrights

February 8, 2008, [MD]

From the excellent [i:boekoe] blog on book culture in Indonesia, comes a press release about the Indonesian government. I have translated it below (slightly shortened):

*The Indonesian government buys the copyright to textbooks\ *(From the newspaper Kompas, February 8, 2008)

The Indonesian government has decided to buy the copyright of textbooks for primary, secondary and high school. The purpose is to bring down the price of textbooks to a quarter of the current price, and make books accessible to people. This was announced by president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a press conference on the 6th of Feburary, 2008, after a meeting with the Department of Education, which discussed the evaluation of the program priorities of the department of education in 2005-2007, and their work program for 2008.

1200 persons from the education sector participated in the meeting, which was held in the Plaza Depdiknas (Department of Education) in Sudirman Street. There was also the vice president Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, ministers, governors, district heads and mayors from all over Indonesia, as well as headmasters, and deans of higher education institutions.

According to the president, one of the problems in the education sector is the price of text books. Because the books are expensive, many parents are not able to buy them, which inhibits the learning of their children. An important step is thus to reduce the price of text books. “One of the ways we’ll do this is through buying the copyright and giving the production rights to other publishers, so that the price of books can be reduced”, said the president. This step is also intended to avoid monopoly within the text book industry.

According to the president, the minister of education, Bambang Sudibyo, and provincial governments, have already been asked to follow up on this decision. The president added that the maximum prices of text books will later be set, so that there will be no more expensive text books. According to the president, the buying of copyright will happen gradually, according to the budget which is available. The target is more than 250 books. We hope that this can happen quickly. The Education Department will study the list of titles to be bought in detail.

I actually heard this about half a year ago, when I participated in the World Book Day 2007 at the Department of Education plaza on Sudirman (same place as this was announced), however I have not seen a written source until now. I have the same thought in mind now, as I had then: This is a very interesting idea, but we should really try to campaign to have them adopt Creative Commons licenses for the material, and put it online as well. This might not make a huge difference to Indonesian school children (yet), but since they own the copyrights anyway, they could make a huge contribution to projects like Wikibooks, Wikipedia etc. And hopefully in the future they can also produce better quality and cheaper teaching materials by adapting material from open resources.

I even sent out a request to the isummit mailing list to see if they know of any groups promoting Creative Commons or open licensing in Indonesia, but so far I have not come across any.


Stian Håklev February 8, 2008 Toronto, Canada
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