For Australian producers, copyright is not an academic concept, it’s a fundamental economic tool, according to new research conducted by Screen Producers Australia.
The research was conducted as part of Screen Producers Australia’s national consultation with the industry. More than 40 companies took part, ranging from those with a large level of foreign investment and a diversified production slate, to sole traders working on a single production at a time.
“The key take-home point from the research is simple: the production industry knows copyright is vital and they see it through the prism of financial returns – it’s all about the nuts and bolts of licensing,” said Screen Producers Australia’s Executive Director Matthew Deaner.
The global marketplace
The Annual Business Survey and National Roadshow (which formed the larger picture within which questions on copyright were asked) showed that producers were increasingly positioning their businesses in the global marketplace.
Screen Producers Australia found that 76 per cent of businesses believed their companies would grow over the coming year with most looking to the global market for their production and distribution partners.
“There’s a level of optimism in the screen industry matched by virtually no other Australian industry,” Mr Deaner said.
Screenrights Chief Executive Simon Lake said it was essential this optimism was backed by a strong copyright regime, one which enabled producers to license their work in new digital markets.
Screen Producers Australia’s research showed that copyright was seen as fundamental to commercial negotiation with broadcasters and distributors and the revenue potential of digital rights opportunities. Discussions around copyright concepts focussed on the challenge of maintaining licence fees, with questions of piracy a concern for feature film producers especially.
Most producers saw rights management as a complex issue, with the challenge even greater for smaller companies, who often lacked the resources to benefit from their back catalogue or pursue new distribution opportunities.
Mr Lake said Screenrights’ EnhanceTV Direct service was also helping companies provide licensed access to their back catalogue.
“The educational copying provisions in the Copyright Act allow resource centres to offer digital archives of content to schools, TAFEs and universities with a Screenrights licence,” he said. “This brings in licence fees for rightsholders whose works are streamed or downloaded for teaching, ensuring an ongoing economic life for back catalogues.”
“Screenrights’ services are all about helping the production industry get the most out of their rights. Our existing licences generate very real returns for the industry, and we’re always working to identify new services and ways of maximising value under our existing services. We’re also working with our industry partners to ensure that the tangible aspects of copyright for our creators are recognised and understood. The optimism we’re seeing in our industry is exciting and we want to see this grow.”