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Productivity Commission recommendations could cripple Australia’s creative industries

Recommendations by the Federal Government’s Productivity Commission to cut copyright protection in Australia would have a devastating impact on the nation’s screenwriters and other authors.

Jacqueline Elaine, Executive Director of the Australian Writers’ Guild said the draft recommendations – that include slashing the length of time copyright protects an author’s work from 70 years to as little as 15, together with the introduction of US-style ‘fair use for copyright works – showed the Productivity Commission has a profound lack of understanding of the writing process.

“The Productivity Commission seems to be recommending that broadcasters and distributors continue to make money by exploiting the intellectual property in film and TV shows while the creators of these works should be stripped of their rights to be paid.

“This recommendation, if adopted, would be yet another blow to Australians authors who, as it is, struggle to receive a fair return for their work,” Ms Elaine continued.

The Productivity Commission has also proposed major changes in the form of US-style “fair use” provisions into Australia’s copyright laws.  Such an approach is unworkable in practice for all but the largest companies, and would undermine local creative works, potentially lead to expensive litigation and ultimately squeeze Australian voices out of the creative landscape.

“Fair use is only fair when everyone benefits; under the Productivity Commissions proposals the authors of Australian creative works will be left with little or nothing to show for their efforts,” Ms Elaine went on.

“The Australian Writers’ Guild is all for copyright reforms that work. But ideological reform that strikes at the very heart of the creative process is counterproductive.”

The Productivity Commission is calling for written responses to the draft report by June 3 2016 and will hold public hearings in June.  The AWG will be making a submission and is calling on writers to do the same.


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