13 February 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

Australian province settles copyright battle with licensing agency

The Australian province of New South Wales has settled a long-running dispute with the country’s Copyright Agency over the use of copyright-protected works in internal government files.

The Copyright Agency is a non-profit that licenses access to copyright-protected works on behalf of Australian creators. It had been locked in a dispute with the government of New South Wales at the country’s Copyright Tribunal over the province’s copying of “tens of millions of pages of author, researcher, photographer, cartoonist, journalist and publisher content”.

The dispute related to what royalties New South Wales owed for use of the works.

New South Wales has now agreed to pay an “agreed remuneration for the period from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2023”, it confirmed in a statement.

While the amount to be paid was not disclosed publicly, the Copyright Agency said in a statement that both parties considered it to be “fair and equitable”.

The Copyright Agency has previously been trenchant in its criticism of New South Wales, having published quotes from creators who said they were “shocked that for over five years the NSW Government has refused to pay a fair rate for its use of copyright material produced by Australian writers and publishers”.

“It’s important that people who research and write–scientists, social policy makers, fiction writers and others–are paid appropriately for their work. If it’s useful enough to use; it’s valuable enough to pay for,” one Copyright Agency member said.

“The resolution of the dispute represents a fair outcome for copyright owners and taxpayers, and avoids a lengthy court process,” a spokesperson for the province’s Department of Communities and Justice said.

Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling said that Australian law provided for provincial governments such as that of New South Wales to make “an unlimited number of uses of copyright material for the services of government”, as long as a remuneration agreement is reached.

“It is pleasing that we have been able to agree a sensible and reasonable outcome for our members with the State,” Suckling added.

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