I thought I should update you directly on some key licensing matters.
As you may know from a message I sent members last November, the Copyright Agency has taken the NSW government to the Copyright Tribunal because of its refusal to pay a fair rate over the last five years for the use of our members’ content.
I have been asked by a number of members where we are at in this process – many have expressed the view that it is ‘dreadful’ that the NSW government, through the Department of Justice, is refusing to pay a fair copyright rate given the importance of supporting creativity in NSW.
The next step in the legal process is that the Tribunal will order the parties into mediation to encourage the parties to come to a commercial agreement to avoid an expensive legal action. We expect to receive a date for this mediation shortly, in either late May or early June.
The Copyright Agency remains firmly of the view that under any cost-benefit analysis it makes sense for the parties to come to a commercial agreement as the NSW Government’s own survey shows NSW public servants copy a lot of our members work, there is a reasonable market rate which other states are paying, and the alternative to a commercial resolution is legal proceedings which will be very costly and be time-consuming.
The last such comparable legal dispute between the parties took 10 years to settle – going all the way to the High Court – but was ultimately determined in our members’ favour. If mediation is not successful, we remain prepared to defend our members’ rights to fair payment in the Tribunal.
I will update you further as this dispute progresses.
We are in negotiations with the universities sector, through Universities Australia (UA) over the commercial agreement and licence fee that universities will pay at the expiry of our current agreement in December.
Our current agreement provides universities with access to a vast amount of material, ensures that a flow of money is provided to publishers and writers, including some of our over 5000 academic members, and makes a contribution to supporting Australian writing, publishing and the visual arts sector.
The Copyright Agency will keep members up-to-date on these discussions.
We are also in negotiations with schools and will update members on progress in subsequent editions of Creative Licence.