What’s wrong with Copywrong

June 4, 2013

A new website asserts that ‘Australia’s copyright laws are out of touch with the digital world’ and gives a list of ‘examples’. Unfortunately, a number of the ‘examples’ are unsubstantiated, and inconsistent with the facts.

‘example’ facts
Australian schools pay up to four times more in copyright fees to deliver education using digital technologies than using paper copies.
  • Special provisions in Australia’s Copyright Act allow schools to use nearly all text and images, print and digital, for education, provided there is fair payment for the content creators
  • The Australian Government has appointed Copyright Agency to manage these provisions (known as the educational statutory licence)
  • By agreement between schools’ representatives and Copyright Agency, the schools’ sector pays a flat rate per student for all print and digital content used under the statutory licence (i.e. that would otherwise require copyright permission)
  • The rate is less than $17 per year for all content
Australian schools currently pay millions of dollars to use content freely available on the Internet – like free tourism maps of Australia, or fact sheets for treating head lice.
  • The schools’ sector pays a flat fee per student for all content (print and digital) used in reliance on the statutory licence(i.e. that they would otherwise require a clearance for)
  • They do not pay Copyright Agency for other uses of content
  • In calculating the ‘volume’ of content used in reliance on the statutory licence, which is taken into account (amongst other things) in negotiations for the flat fee, Copyright Agency follows data processing protocols agreed with the schools’ sector
  • As a result of those protocols, about half of the online content used by schools is excluded from the volume estimates
  • This includes content published under a Creative Commons licence, Free For Education licence or other terms allowing free use by schools
Australian schools pay fourteen times more per student to use copyright works in schools than schools do in New Zealand. And up to seven times more than schools in the UK and five times more than schools in Canada.
  • The Australian statutory licence is more extensive than licences offered in other countries
  • Licences in other countries commonly don’t cover:
    • workbooks, worksheets (‘consumables’)
    • standalone artistic works
    • ‘born digital’ content
    • repurposing and mashups
  • Licences in other countries commonly require:
    • purchase of original versions before copying is allowed
    • attribution
    • ‘marking’ of copies
    • checking of repertoire

The #copywrong website is hosted by the Australian Digital Alliance.