Copyright Agency responds to comments on copyright in The Age

August 29, 2016

This is a response to Peter Martin’s comment piece in The Sunday Age on 28 August.

Not only has Peter Martin made basic factual errors in his article on copyright but by invoking book burning in Nazi Germany Mr Martin profoundly offends millions of people and shows he has lost perspective in his coverage of the copyright debate.

Mr Martin completely mischaracterises the issue – which does not revolve around stopping access to copyright material, as he implies, but rather around ensuring Australians can access material across a broad range of platforms while making sure creators are rewarded so they can keep creating.

Mr Martin’s claim that government “fear of weakening” copyright law and inaction is preventing people with disabilities from accessing reading materials, is also misleading.

The fact is the government, libraries and organisations that represent Australian writers, musicians and film makers have agreed to make changes to copyright law to make it easier for people with disabilities to access published materials. These amendments continue Australia’s role as a world leader in introducing access provisions for people with disabilities. Indeed, Australia has already ratified the international treaty for the visually impaired, because we have had access provisions for people with disabilities for more than 35 years.

In Mr Martin’s support for a US fair use regime he fails to mention that this legal regime is opposed by writers, journalists and artists and Australian content companies because fair use would mean some big tech companies would be able to use content without paying for it. This will make it much harder to support and nurture the next generation of stars and Aussie icons – the Jimmy Barneses, Magda Szubanskis, Peter Sculthorpes, Patrick Whites and Mad Max’s of the future.

Mr Martin also says that US style fair use will allow for things such as the US Bookshare program.  This is misleading.  The US Bookshare program is not provided under fair use but under a specific provision for people with disabilities in the US Copyright Act. According to Bookshare, publishers provide more than 80% of the thousands of books added each month to the virtual bookshelves of our online Bookshare library, under voluntary permission agreements.

We need to continue to have sensible reform and sensible debate, not inflammatory positions based on a false premise.

Adam Suckling
CEO, Copyright Agency


Tags: ,