Productivity Commission on Intellectual Property is a threat to Australian content

The latest Productivity Commission report on Australia’s intellectual property arrangements, including copyright law is a threat to Australian content, and rights holders to receive fair payment for their work.

The Government’s release of the Commission’s recommendations on 20 December 2016, highlights a proposed radical change, including that Australia introduce a “fair use” regime.

“This so called “fair use” is based on US copyright law, and supports international big tech company interests, as a means of reducing their copyright licence fees, and in turn limiting the scope to compensate rights holders such as Australian filmmakers for their work,” Screenrights CEO Simon Lake said.

The report fails to consider the submissions and concerns of the Australia’s creative industries sector.

“This is a direct risk to royalties collected by the likes of Screenrights on behalf of our members,” Mr Lake said.

A PwC report released in February 2016, projected that the costs of fair use would be over $1billion per year in Australia due to increased litigation, compliance and transaction costs.

Should “fair use” recommendations be adopted, it is certain that rights holders will lose out, creating a ripple effect for availability of culturally relevant and locally produced content.

This poses not only a risk to the Australian creative industries, but also to access of culturally significant content for educators and students alike.

The television and radio licence administered by Screenrights provides world-leading access to television and radio for schools, universities and government. The access to content under the Australian system far exceeds what is possible under fair use.

Unlike the US, Australia has a wide system of fair dealings and statutory licences which allow for uses of copyright for specific purposes such as education, reporting the news, critical review, study and research and parody. Many of these Australian exceptions provide greater targeted access to content than “fair use”.

Importantly, the Australian system also provides for the payment of a fair fee for the licence, ensuring that filmmakers are compensated for the use of the works. It is this compensation that makes our system truly fair, unlike the model recommended by the Commission.

The Government is now seeking further Stakeholder comments and views on issues raised in the final report to be submitted by 14 February 2017. Feedback should be provided to

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