Agency head slams copyright changes as ideological and unsound

25 August, 2016

Copyright Agency chair Kim Williams has slammed recommendations to weaken Australian copyright protection as disrespectful, ideologically-motivated and not even good business sense.Speaking at the Melbourne Press Club, the former Foxtel and News Limited boss gave one of his strongest critiques to-date of the recommendations from the Productivity Commission which, if enacted by the Government, could strip writers and other creators of a life’s worth of protection for their work.He said resistance by Australia’s creative industries was “a fight between creators who need copyright protection to flourish and rent seekers who need to eliminate copyright because it stops them from getting unfair use of other people’s hard crafted work”.He called the argument for chopping copyright protection was “a dishonest ideology that has been manufactured by monopolists to legalize what is essentially property theft”.“It is not free market thinking,” Williams said of the Commission’s economic argument. “There is no evidence whatsoever that rights holders have advanced at the expense of consumers. And no evidence that costs are higher here than elsewhere. In fact, because litigation levels are so low here compared to elsewhere, the opposite is true, as is widely acknowledged internationally.”“If the thousands of young people coming out of our universities each year hoping for a job in the creative sectors of the economy are robbed of any hope of making a living from their talents, how easy do you think the innovation agenda will get?”The Australian Writers’ Guild has opposed the Commission’s proposed copyright changes from the first and has made two submissions and appeared before hearings. The AWG submissions are available here under submissions and advocacy.The Productivity Commission’s final report will be handed down next month (September).Kim Williams speech in full is available here.
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