Since our campaign Free Is Not Fair began, thousands of letters have been sent to Federal MPs and Senators in all 150 electorates across Australia.
It’s not too late to let your elected representative know how you feel about potentially damaging changes to copyright in Australia.
Visit www.freeisnotfair.org now and voice your concern. You can also post on social media using the hashtags #freeisnotfair and #respect creators or visit the This Book/Song Changed My Life website and post about a life-changing book or song. Use the hashtag #respectcreators and it will appear in the feed on the site.
Here is a selection of excerpts from some of the letters sent to MPs, reprinted with permission of the authors.
Isaac Everett writes: Being a member of Australia’s artistic youth, I grow exceedingly anxious when I receive word that technology giants of the United States are pushing to change what is a practical and efficiently viable Australian copyright ecosystem, which delivers benefits to artists, publishers and producers. This is a harrowing threat to the income and jobs of Australian creators and will mean the next generation of Australian filmmakers, songwriters, artists and authors will find it harder to earn enough finances to make a living. Furthermore, this can have lasting complications on Australia’s economics.
Musician Madeline Leman writes: As a Moreland based musician, having songs placed in films or ads is the ONLY way to make money and allows us to put on great local gigs despite not being paid well. The Brunswick music scene is kept afloat by musicians who play shows for the love not the money. Copyright is what pays the bills. Without this the local music community in Moreland will not be able to pay rent and the vibrant arts scene that we all love will die. I implore you to think about the consequences this change will have to the hip pocket of many creatives and vote against it.
Theatre and film writer Keane Latcham-Small writes: It is unfair and a tremendous mistake to sacrifice the Australian arts and Australian artists, because Tech Giants don’t want to pay for the work that we do. The Australian arts isn’t a dead industry, don’t treat us like we are.
Milly Ellen writes: I’d like to know why the work of artists is deemed virtually worthless as compared to the work of politicians. I’m not sure your speechwriters/assistants/media coaches would be too happy to hear that some of their time falls under the category of “fair use” and they were therefore not being paid. What a joke. On what grounds is this acceptable? Who gains from this agreement and who loses?
Journalist Danny Katz writes: As a newspaper columnist in the digital age, I am constantly having my work plagiarised, copied, re-purposed, with no credit or payment – it’s getting ridiculous. The “fair use” doctrine (below) will just make things more dire. Man, can I tell you, writing/music/arty work is one tough way to make a living. Complete ownership of our creative works is sometimes all we have. And as a country that produces some of the finest writing/music/art in the world – and that is a fact – we must protect what makes us unique, what we are.
Freelance journalist Jan Forrester writes: “[Google and Facebook’s] market dominance is such that they constitute an ‘effective duopoly on online Australian media’, between them almost monopolising Australian’s eyeballs and creaming off most of the advertising revenue that used to go the mainstream commercial media, and from which they derive a substantial amount of their content”.
Writer Paddy O’Reilly writes: What they are proposing is not fair use when applied to the work of individual authors, artists and other creators in this country. When I write a book, the copyright is mine, and I should be paid for the use of the work. Otherwise, how am I to continue to work as a writer?
Teacher, writer and singer/songwriter Louise Taunt writes: Given that most academic authors are at the bottom of the food chain–despite being the creators of the actual food, (!!) it is only fair that they receive copyright payments for their work. If this is taken away–it will do more than just take away the ‘fair go’; it will cause an active inequity. It will mean that creativity is worth nothing. The big company ‘whales’ will eat the ‘clever little fish’. And I would remind you that we here in Australia are very little fish in a very big pond.
Writer Vicki Renner writes: Without writers there are no songs, no Australian films that celebrate our unique culture, no tv shows that represent our diversity, no stories about our unique animals, no Aussie novels that remind us what it means to be human, no journalism that shines a light in dark places, no autobiographies that inspire us or documentaries that move us.
Copyright is a basic protection to ensure we can continue to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Do we want to be a country where marginalised writers are unable to write because they simply can’t afford to take time off from other work? We’re not asking for more income – just for you and other politicians to protect the small amount we already get.