Kim Williams calls for rejection of PC report

August 17, 2016

Chair of the Copyright Agency, Kim Williams AM, has warned that the next generation of Jimmy Barneses, Magda Szubanksis and George Millers will be in short supply should the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into Intellectual Property come to pass.

Mr Williams said that unless the Commission retreated from its extreme recommendations, policy makers and parliamentarians should firmly reject the report’s final findings, due next month.

Speaking at the Melbourne Press Club today, Mr Williams said the Commission’s draft report had foreshadowed radical changes to copyright which profoundly disrespected all Australians involved in creative work.

“The people who entertain us, inform us, challenge our views about our country and make us proud to be Australian, would all lose out,” he said.

“I cannot think of another recent report that so misses the main drivers of its area of inquiry – what drives innovation?  They miss what all people who run businesses know – creative innovation is driven by a clear operating framework, the talent of a company’s workforce, their appetite for risk and the certainty that they will retain copyright in their products for a reasonable period.

“In the creative landscape, the bedrock of producing things such as books, music, film, television and allied production is intellectual property and copyright – the Copyright Act provides the framework for ensuring returns from creative production and the investment and innovation which drives it.

“The Commission’s recommendation to introduce a notoriously ambiguous copyright doctrine from the US will see large organisations that now pay for highly valued copyright content seek to pay nothing.

“A PwC report estimated that introducing this change in Australia could result in a loss of GDP of over $1 billion because it would undermine local publishing operations (meaning less Australian books and causing job losses), mean more legal action, and would white ant licensing arrangements between creators and users that work well today.”

Mr Williams added that the Commission’s suggestion that Australia should reduce its term of copyright to 15-25 years total was an illustration of the ignorance and disregard it held for creators who rely heavily on their back catalogue of works to produce future income.

Williams added, “None of this is to say that our copyright and intellectual property regime should not be updated and key parties are close to agreement on a Bill to update the Copyright Act which the Government can introduce quickly.

“The way forward is through sensible reform – where all the key players have a chance to make recommendations that get the balance right between the rights of writers and artists and those that use copyright material.”

To read or view a video of the full speech, click here.


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