New four-year schools licence negotiated

April 10, 2019

A message from the CEO, Adam Suckling

Dear Members,

I wrote to you at the end of last year about the issues around negotiating new agreements, our disputes before the Copyright Tribunal, and our investment in new systems and services to better serve members.

As you know, digital technology continues to change profoundly the way content is generated, distributed, measured, priced and consumed. These changes present opportunities and challenges for the Copyright Agency.

Despite these changes, our job remains the same: to stand up for your rights.

This includes many areas of activity: adapting our licensing agreements; taking action in the Copyright Tribunal to establish the rates for new digital forms of usage of your material under our licence; investing in necessary, new technology to ensure we can keep making timely and accurate payments to members (and improve the way we serve members); and working more efficiently.

A new Schools’ Agreement

We have agreed the key terms for a new copyright remuneration arrangement with the schools’ sector for the next four years. This agreement will cover the use of a huge amount of material used by Australian teachers and 3.8 million students across Australia.

The agreement provides certainty over payments for the four year term; commits us to working together on a new measurement system to capture usage; and allows either party to go to the Copyright Tribunal if we cannot agree on the most reliable ways to measure usage.

Schools have also agreed to explore with Copyright Agency fresh digital solutions to help teachers better access copyright content for education application.

Protecting members’ rights in the Copyright Tribunal

Copyright Agency has a history of taking action, when necessary, to protect the rights of members to fair rates of payment for copyright material, and to ensure effective usage measurement systems.  Accordingly we are now engaged in three important actions before the Copyright Tribunal:

  1. As you might recall from late last year, in order to renovate arrangements and review pricing with all 39 universities in Australia we initiated an action in the Tribunal after it proved impossible to arrive at a workable copyright remuneration agreement with Universities Australia (UA). Given the profound changes driven by digital technology, our current actions in the Tribunal aim to allow us to establish the value of new forms of digital usage and also to improve the way in which we capture data on usage of members material. As part of this process, the Tribunal will make a ruling on an ‘interim’ rate UA will pay until there is a ruling on a final rate. The date of the hearing on the interim rate is 17 April 2019.  We will keep members updated.
  2. The Tribunal has not yet provided the date for the hearing on the rate the NSW Government should pay for the use of members’ copyright material for government purposes. Unlike all other States and the Commonwealth, the NSW Government has refused to pay a fair rate for use of an enormous amount of copyright material by public servants for the last six years. Despite repeated efforts it has, to date, not been possible to resolve the matter commercially.
  3. In the third matter before it, the Tribunal has been asked to consider the rates that media monitoring organisations – Isentia, Meltwater and Streem – should pay for use of publishers’ content. The rates payable in the interim, while the Tribunal hears the full matter, are close to final. The Tribunal will then move to the central issue of setting the final rate.

Naturally, we’d prefer to come to commercial arrangements rather than work through a Tribunal process and have only taken these actions to protect the rights of copyright owners when all other avenues  have been unsuccessful. However, we will continue to discuss with all stakeholders alternative ways to resolve these matters.

I will continue to update you on progress in each area over time.

Continuing to invest in necessary, new cloud-based systems to support members

We are continuing to invest in building new systems over the next two years, including a new member portal, new works and rights database and a modernised distribution system. We need to make this investment to ensure that we can improve services to members and distribute allocations (worth over $100 million annually) in a timely, reliable and efficient way.

If you have any questions please email and we will respond as quickly as possible.

I will also do a series of member roadshows across the country in the first part of the new financial year.

All best wishes,


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