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Networks blast copyright recommendations

Networks and producers have blasted a Productivity Commission Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements, which recommends adopting the US system of fair use, allowing the use of copyrighted material so long as it is fair, taking into account its purpose and the amount copied.

It also recommends expanding safe harbours to include universities and schools, circumventing geo-blocking where material is available overseas at overseas prices, and expediting copyright enforcement in the courts.

Free TV CEO Brett Savill said “Free TV opposes the replacement of the existing clear and certain fair dealing exceptions with a US style one-size fits all provision that is aimed at serving the interests of overseas based big tech companies. In addition, the safe harbour recommendations are out of touch with how the Copyright Act is operating in the online environment.

“Australian copyright law provides the fundamental framework that incentivises the production of this highly valued local content, and enables broadcasters and other content industry businesses to invest in the industry,” he said.

“The availability of cheaper or more readily available content from other markets is not a substitute for an entire local content industry, or the cultural value it holds. Local Australian creative industries enrich our society, reflect and contribute to our sense of identity as a nation, and also play an important role in attracting tourism, migration and business to Australia. The recommendations in this report put all of this at risk.”

The report also wants to make it to be easier to make use of “orphan works” for whom the copyright owners cannot be found. It says the National Film and Sound Archive has told it that 20 per cent of its holdings are in a legal “no man’s land”, meaning it can’t use them to celebrate Australia’s heritage without tracking down owners who can’t be found. It also criticised the Copyright Agency, claiming it is not open about what they do with the funds they collect on behalf of different classes of rights holders.

Meanwhile Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner said, “The Productivity Commission’s final report, tabled in Parliament today by the Government, maintains the Commission’s ideological attack on content. The Commission gave little consideration to content owner’s views in its issues paper and draft report. With a tin ear to the creative community’s concerns, the Commission rehashed its reckless recommendations with little revision.

“Ultimately, the Commission idolised ideological arguments, sacrificing content at the altar of an economic orthodoxy. This report is an insult to the Australian creative communities.

“An expedited court process to recover damages for copyright infringement is useless if there’s no copyright left to protect. Copyright provides the framework for our industry’s investment in content. These reckless recommendations will unravel copyright’s carefully balanced incentives to invest in content, to secure international financing, to tell and sell Australian stories on screen. Without these incentives, there will be less Australian content made. We will all suffer.”

The government will respond to the report in the middle of next year.

Source: Fairfax

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