The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission draft report on Intellectual Property has been released. I recommend you read at least these key points and recommendations. The Australian publishing industry is largely unhappy about it and I’m not surprised.
What people are saying about it:
Read the submissions page, if you like government-style documents. It is separated into two sections: Initial submissions and post-draft submissions. Or letters/blogs by prominent authors or groups. Here are links to a few of my picks:
Read the views of Jackie French and the Australian winners of the Booker Prize. Read Allison Tait. Read the PwC report prepared for APRA AMCOS, PCA, Copyright Agency│Viscopy, Foxtel, News Corp Australia and Screenrights. In the initial submissions section, you can also find letters from many of Australia’s publishers and writing societies and organisations.
On the other side of the table there is a counter-report, in response to the PwC report, by members of the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights. Note: this counter-report is dated 15 April 2016. It appears on the submissions page as a post draft submission, but the draft report was supposedly not released until 29 April 2016. So I’m not certain if these experts are just responding to the PwC report, or to the draft report (time-travel, anyone?). Judging by the content: the former only.
Why do I care?
As an aspiring author, nowhere near finishing my first draft, let alone publishing, one may well wonder – why do I care? I am an Australian currently living in the UK – what right do I have to care even? Still, Jackie French‘s letter and Allison Tait‘s blog, struck a chord. My initial reaction was visceral and unedited. I may not be a professional writer today, or tomorrow, or ever – but I aspire to be one.
In follow up, I’ve been reading what I can. Section 4, Copyright Term and Scope:
- acknowledges that the current term of protection for most works is life + 70 years to ‘incentivise creation’
- proposes to institute more ‘consumer-favourable’ copyright laws offering shorter protection terms of between 15-25 years after the creation of new works, which is a shorter term of protection than either the UK or the US.
So … the recommendation is to reduce the incentive to create new works?
That’s not good news for aspiring authors or the future of Australian works. I can’t see any mention of the changes being retroactive, so what does it really mean for the works of published authors today?
There is also the argument around Parallel Importations which you can read more about here.
What can we do?
Talk about it. Consider voicing your opinion by making a submission here before Friday 3rd June.
EDIT: Sign this petition to stop the Parallel Importation of books