A few weeks ago, in our regular news column, we mentioned the Australian Productivity Commission’s consultation on proposed revisions to intellectual property law. As the consultation deadline of June 3rd nears, and the realization of exactly what these proposed changes would involve grows, authors concerns are mounting.
- The removal of parallel importation rights could have a disastrous effect on the ability of publishers to invest in Australian creativity.
- Amendments to the “fair dealing” treatment of copyright will create an uncertain legal climate that will disadvantage both users and creators of copyright material.
- Changes to the term of copyright protection for authors will reduce the ability of authors to draw revenue from their creative output.
This latter proposal, particularly the reduction of the copyright term to 15 to 25 years after publication (instead of 70 years after death), is causing particular concern. These changes affect not just the cultural landscape for Australia but for all writers and, indeed, readers.
“It is beyond belief that any government should so blatantly try to erode copyright ,” says Orna Ross, Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). “Many authors take many years to build a reputation and there are a great number of books that do not come into public consciousness for years, or even decades, after they were written. Under this proposed ruling, JK Rowling would no longer own the rights to the first Harry Potter book next year.
“Much has changed in the author space in recent years but what remains constant is that authors’ right to earn money from our work rests on copyright. The threats outlined in these proposals are severe, immediate and very real. Authors, and all who care about writing and reading, must unit to resist them.”
In this speech given to the Australian Book Industry Awards in Sydney on 19 May, the Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan said the Australian governments’ record “drips with a contempt for writers and writing” and explains why these proposals are so pernicious.
As an organization, ALLi supports Book Create Australia in their campaign to withdraw this proposal, in order to safeguard the continued access to fair compensation for authors. We would like officially to express our solidarity with our Australian members and all writers who stand to be affected by these proposed changes.
How You Can Help
- We encourage all those who are eligible to do so to submit responses before the June 3rd deadline. You can find the full draft of the proposals, and details of how to contribute to the consultation here.
- Join this petition from the campaign Books Create Australiar and follow the campaign on social media with the #BooksCreate hashtag
- For a more detailed overview of the way the proposed changes will impact on publishing, literature, and the creative industry, download information from Books Create Australia here.