Secretary General Jose Borghino spoke about freedom to publish in Baku

The next "Kitabistan Talks" conference took place
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On May 5 another "KITABISTAN TALKS" conference was held.

This time Kitabistan's guest was Jose Borghino, Secretary General of the International Publishers Association. At the conference on "Freedom to Publish and Censorship", J.Borghino gave a speech about the activities of the International Publishers Association, the importance of freedom to publish and freedom to creative, the impact and dangers of artificial intelligence on copyright and publishing.

At the conference opening speech, Kitabistan's co-founder Shahriyar Majidzade noted that censorship had grown more sophisticated today:

“Censorship has always existed. Removal of texts, banning and burning books... But censorship has become more sophisticated these days. It involves altering the meanings in texts, and translating them incorrectly.... There is an addition to all these: unreferencing.

Now I want to give an example of this, which we all can see. The Secretary General of the International Publishers Association, Mr. Jose Borghino, visits Azerbaijan at the invitation of Kitabistan, and gives a speech at a conference on "Freedom to Publish and Censorship". It's an important event, isn't it? But when I look at this hall, I don't see the "Voice of America" which was created in 1942 to provide impartial and objective information, or representatives of other international media outlets. If tomorrow, someone living in any country of the world, tries to find objective information about Mr. Jose Borghino, Kitabistan, or the "Freedom to Publish and Censorship" conference, they won't be able to find it in Google. It would seem as if Jose Borghino never visited Baku, Kitabistan never organized a conference on "Freedom to Publish and Censorship", and you never participated in that event.

I believe that it is important for us to collectively reflect on this issue and come up with solutions. Although I don't know if our voice will be heard or not, I strongly feel that global media organizations need to increase their efforts to provide unbiased and impartial information.”

Following S.Majidzade's opening speech, a video made by Kitabistan specifically for the conference was presented, and then Jose Borghino, Secretary General of the International Publishers Association was invited to the stage. J.Borghino started his speech with a question to the audience:

“Let me ask you to take a moment to think of something, perhaps an opinion, that you know is not acceptable to the government, or the people in your family, or those in your social circle. There are no thought police here, but if I picked one of you and asked you to stand up and tell everyone here your thought, would you?”

After this question, J.Borghino gave information about the International Publishers Association and spoke about copyright, freedom to create and freedom to publish:

“The International Publishers Association was founded in 1896 in Paris. It was created with the objectives of promoting copyright and the freedom to publish which remain the two pillars of the IPA today.

Copyright is what ensures that an author’s creativity, their investment of time, can be rewarded so they can write more books. It is also what ensures that a publisher gets a return on their investment of their time and capital, so they can continue to invest in new works.

Different markets around the world face different challenges when it comes to copyright. In many Western markets, the challenges are digital piracy. In many other markets, physical piracy is still very much a problem.

The Freedom to Publish Committee of the International Publishers Association also manages our freedom to publish prize, the Prix Voltaire, named after the French Enlightenment philosopher whose work in favor of freedom of expression was described by one biographer as ‘I disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it’.

The IPA cannot possibly hope to secure the freedom to publish everywhere on its own. To amplify our efforts we also work alongside other international organisations representing authors, booksellers and libraries to ensure that all of these freedoms are respected not only in law but also in practice.”

"I saw the bookshop yesterday and I am very impressed that they have the tenacity and resilience to open a bookshop using people's donations."

At the end of his speech, J. Borgino returned to the question he asked before:

“I have an apology to make. I lied to you earlier. I promised you that the thought police aren’t here. But they are. In every one of us. Catching our wildest thoughts and making us think twice about saying them out loud or sharing them with others. This is the scourge of self-censorship.”

Answering the question asked by audience members, J.Borghino talked about Kitabistan:

Kitabistan, they are my host. So, I have to be very respectful and thankful for them inviting me here. It’s been great. I saw the bookshop yesterday and I am very impressed that they have the tenacity and resilience to open a bookshop using people's donations. I think that’s a really interesting model. I don’t know any other places that have done that.”

Answering the question about censorship, he remarked that even in the most liberal democracies, there are limits:

“I do understand that there are always limits. For instance, even in the most liberal democracies in the world, there are limits to people publishing, for instance, how to make a bomb. You can’t publish a work or put on the internet how to make a bomb. It is the same principle as in America. Where it’s constitutionally provided that free expression exists. It’s in the constitution. However, you are not free in America to cry “Fire!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire.”

At the end of the conference Jose Borghino, Secretary General of the International Publishers Association, was awarded an Honorary Kitabistan Citizen for his works in the cause of defending freedom of expression and freedom to create, protecting copyright and freedom to publish in the world.

It should be noted that the ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Azerbaijan, Mr. Michel Petermans, the director of the Goethe Center in Baku, Ms. Sonja Lau, as well as, independent publishers and writers participated in the conference.