Australian Productivity Commission proposals would stifle Australian content

Proposals to impose a US-style intellectual property arrangement in Australia made by the Productivity Commission would lead to serious job losses throughout Australia’s creative community, according to Adam Suckling, CEO of Copyright Agency, the Australian RRO.

The Productivity Commission is the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians.  The report claims that Australia’s copyright arrangements are weighed too heavily in favour of copyright owners, to the detriment of the long-term interests of both consumers and intermediate users.  While it recognises that CMOs increase the efficiency of rights management and that, in the absence of collective licences, many transactions beneficial to both users and rights holders would not occur, it proposes a US-style “fair-use” rather than the current “fair-dealing” exception for Australia. 

Suckling argues that such a system is out of context in Australia and would “be a wrecking ball to Australian writers, creators, publishers and the local creative industries.”  He draws attention to the findings of a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers study which indicates that it could result in a loss of GDP of over $1 billion, undermine domestic production of creative and educational works and lead to expensive litigation.

The PWC report on Australia is not the first to ring alarm bells over proposals to widen exceptions and limitations.  A similar one in the UK in 2012 raised fears that proposed changes to educational exceptions would jeopardise the provision of educational material in return for negligible cost savings for content users.
Click here for Copyright Agency Press release and here for the Productivity Commission report.