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Australian entertainment industry hits out at copyright reform proposals

By | Published on Monday 11 July 2016

Productivity Commission

No surprises here really, but the Australian media and entertainment industries have hit out in no uncertain terms at a bunch of copyright proposals put forward by the country’s Productivity Commission, which would increase copyright exceptions while possibly decreasing copyright terms.

As previously reported, the Australian government has already distanced itself from the latter proposal, ie the idea that the copyright term for literary, musical, artistic and dramatic works be cut from the current life-plus-70-years to something closer to 25 years after publication.

Though reps for the music, movie, TV and other copyright industries have been keen to state their opposition to pretty much everything else that appeared in the draft Productivity Commission report, as the department takes submissions ahead of publishing its final document later this summer.

Speaking for the record industry, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry took specific aim at the proposal that more fair dealing exceptions be introduced into Australian law, increasing the scenarios in which third parties can make use of copyright protected material without seeking permission or paying any royalties.

According to Torrentfreak, the IFPI wrote in a response to the Productivity Commission report: “Licensing, not exceptions to copyright, drives innovation. Innovation is best achieved through licensing agreements between content owners and users, including technological innovators … It is no coincidence that those who champion the ‘flexibility’ of fair use exceptions/defences typically are those whose business models depend on unfettered access to copyright works”.

Trade groups and big players from across the entertainment industry echo the IFPI’s concerns. Though, needless to say, there are those in other sectors who are more receptive to the Productivity Commission’s proposals, not least good old Google. In its submission, it notes that plenty of strong copyright regimes offer more exceptions than Australia currently does – not least the US – and that some of those exceptions, like the parody and news reporting exceptions, are exploited by the media and entertainment companies themselves.

It remains to be seen how many of the Productivity Commission’s proposals to date are still in the final report when it is handed to the Australian government next month.