The global copyright organisation, IFRRO, passed a resolution at its Asia Pacific Committee meeting recently expressing strong concerns about potential copyright law changes in Australia.

The meeting of 21 representatives from 10 countries has written to the Australian Government and parliamentarians, urging them to reject the Productivity Commission’s copyright recommendations should the final report (to be delivered this month) reflect the Commission’s draft recommendations.

The countries are: United States of America, United Kingdom, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Australia.

The resolution is as follows:

Copyright is vital to the global creative community and to its various audiences. In these days of globalisation and homogenisation of culture, a country’s creative community is a rich wellspring which should be protected and nurtured.

The Asia Pacific Committee of IFRRO therefore urges the Australian Government to reject the findings of the Productivity Commission report in three respects:

  1. The recommendation to introduce the US doctrine of Fair Use should be rejected. Unlike the USA, Australia does not have the case law background for the introduction of fair use in the Australian legislation; its introduction is therefore likely to be costly and dependent on case laws in countries outside Australia.
  2. The recommendation to abolish territorial copyright should be rejected. Australia would be out of step with other major English language countries who have territorial copyright in place. Abolishing this right would provide those countries with a commercial advantage in terms of selling Australian books to Australians.
  3. Finally, the suggestion that the term of copyright should be between 15-25 years, while not a formal recommendation, represents a serious gulf in the Commissioners’ understandings of the copyright industries and the role they play in shaping a country’s culture over centuries.

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