Australian Policy Makers must not be Misled on Digital Agenda Copyright Bill

Australian policy makers must avoid being misled by the latest statements from copyright owner interests on the "severely detrimental" effects of the proposed Digital Agenda Copyright Bill.

"Contrary to today's claims, consumer groups around the world, as well as libraries, educational institutions, scientific and research organisations and others are firmly of the view that balanced copyright law is in the best interests of consumers and the information economy." said Mara Bún of the Australian Consumers' Association.

Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) and the publishing sector continue to denounce the Bill because it does not meet their demands. They wanted all uses of copyright material, no matter how small or how private to be licensed. They demanded that the rights of students, libraries and researchers be stripped away in the digital environment, and the Government said no.

"These latest statements from the international publishing lobby only serve to show what this is all about. It's a grab for more money by the big foreign publishers. They grossly misrepresent non-profit libraries as 'free riders' which will compete with commercial publishing ventures. This never has and never will be true." said Tom Cochrane, Chair of the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee. "No matter how many times local publishers or their foreign parent companies repeat this story, it bears little resemblance to the reality: non-profit libraries are not and never will be a threat to the publishers'."

The Digital Agenda Bill simply allows libraries to utilise new technology in providing the same services to the same limited user group that they have always existed to serve. The Bill does not increase the range of activities that libraries will be able to carry out under the Copyright Act.


"Put simply, the Bill will allow a library to email a 
document to a user rather than fax it."

"Libraries have had tightly regulated rights to copy limited amounts of copyright material for their users for a long time. Despite this, the publishing sector, and particularly the scientific, technical and medical publishing sector continues to make record profits out of its 'captive markets'. Nevertheless, the publishers wanted the chance to make even more money out of a sector that already forks out tens of millions of dollars buying their product. They didn't get it." said Annabelle Herd, Executive Officer of the Australian Digital Alliance.

"As for CAL, it's interest is simple" said Mara Bún of the Australian Consumers' Association "CAL wants fewer rights for libraries so that it can extend its licensing reach. It's complaints about the Bill have nothing to do with the interests of consumers or the future of the information economy."

To it's credit, the Government has made balanced policy decisions after careful consultations with all interests. There is nothing of substance in this latest round of publisher complaints to merit a change in the current policy.


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