Authors react to NSW Government’s non-payment

NSW public servants copy and communicate an enormous amount of material covered by copyright, but the NSW Government has not paid its licence fees for over five years. Read what authors Tara Moss, Anna Funder and Malcolm Knox had to say to The Daily Telegraph on Monday 18 June about this issue.

Tara Moss

It is frankly outrageous that for over five years the Government in NSW has refused to pay a fair rate for its use of copyrighted material produced by Australians. The Government of NSW, the state I call home, is the only government in Australia refusing to pay this fair and established rate, thereby refusing to recognise the value in tens of millions of pages of author, researcher, photographer, cartoonist, journalist and publisher content.

This issue matters. For example, a 2015 study showed that most Australian authors earn only $12,900 from their writing. This is not only about respect and recognition for Australian creators, but also ensuring they have an income stream so that they can keep working.

It doesn’t matter what genre it is, from technical material, to journalism or fiction, if we want to be able to benefit from the knowledge of Australians, or read and watch Australian stories instead of solely imports, we must value the contributions of Australians and offer them fair pay. It’s that simple.

Anna Funder

I am shocked that for over five years the NSW Government has refused to pay a fair rate for its use of copyright material produced by Australian writers and publishers. I never imagined the NSW Government would take a product or use a service and under pay for it. But here it is, doing just that: taking our product and not paying a fair price.

It’s important that governments behave fairly. It’s important that people who research and write – scientists, social policy makers, fiction writers and others – are paid appropriately for their work. If it’s useful enough to use; it’s valuable enough to pay for.

How can the Premier and the Arts minister stand up at cultural events and tell writers that they support them, when they won’t pay the very small sums the Copyright Agency is seeking on behalf of its 40,000 members?

Malcolm Knox

We all pay for state government services. When the positions are reversed, however, the New South Wales government is trying to pay less than any other state for writers’ services – in this case, copyright material. I pay it full rate for its services and it pays me a reduced rate for mine. Is that fair?

When the New South Wales government stages its annual literary awards, it takes due credit for recognising authors. It ought to be true to its word and recognise authors in the day-to-day, unglamorous but enormously important area of fair copyright payments.

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