News from Australian Copyright Agency Limited

Subject: News from Australian Copyright Agency Limited
From: Barbara Schleihagen (
Date: ti 07 joulu  1999 - 13:17:44 EET

For your information, below a press release from the Copyright
Agency Limited, Australia, send by Charles Maddison, email:
Best wishes,
Barbara Schleihagen

7 December 1999

Copyright report leaves Australia at the digital doorstep

Australia would only reach the threshold of the digital age, and not
through the door, if a Government committee’s recommendations on
copyright laws were adopted, Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) said

CAL’s Chief Executive, Mr Michael Fraser, praised the House of
Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs for recognising the essential fact that texts published in digital
formats were different to their print-based counterparts.

But he said the committee’s Advisory Report on the Copyright
Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999 had erred by recommending
that the Government allow commercial libraries to enjoy the same
copying rights as public and educational libraries.

"Authors, artists and publishers rely on strong consistent copyright law
for protection against unfair exploitation of their original work," Mr
Fraser said.

"CAL therefore welcomes the committee’s recommendation that a so-
called ‘fire wall’ be established to prohibit copying of print books and
journals into digital form unless the author gives permission.

"This would prevent unauthorised users from incorporating traditional
print publications into their databases without rewarding the creators of
the original work," he said.

"But the report lets down Australia’s creative community by not
seeking to apply the same protection to works which are originally
published in digital formats.

"If the report is adopted, public and corporate libraries could still take
digital publications they have paid for once and, on request, transmit
entire articles and chapters online to any person or corporation for
research," Mr Fraser said.

"For example, a library in a corporation could buy one digital copy of an
article, then transmit it to its research staff or another corporate
library on request without rewarding the author.

"The library would be paid at least its cost for this service, but the
authors, publishers and artists affected would receive nothing!

"Why should commercial and corporate libraries, which exist to
enhance their organisations’ profits, be permitted to systematically copy
and transmit the original work of authors, publishers and artists without
paying the copyright owners?

"Where is the ethical basis for this approach? It is just commercial
free-riding at the expense of the original creators of digital works," he

"On behalf of thousands of Australian authors, publishers and artists, CAL
asks the Government to retain the distinction between commercial and other
library activities.

"Australia’s participation in the new knowledge based industries can not
develop momentum if the copying done by our corporations and public
libraries rides on the backs of our innovative authors and publishers," Mr
Fraser said.

Media contacts:
Michael Fraser
Chief Executive Officer
Copyright Agency Limited
Phone: 02 – 9394 7600

Charles Maddison
Media Affairs Officer
Copyright Agency Limited
Phone: 02 – 9394 7684
                 0417 – 652 613

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