You may have heard some rumblings about dissatisfaction brewing amongst the publishers and authors of Australia. Something about copyright and intellectual property and Tim Winton is very upset. Well, they have reason to be upset, and so do you.

A Music News Australia reports, the government’s Productivity Commission has issued a draft report on their inquiry into Intellectual Property in Australia. It’s a convoluted and honestly exhausting read, but the Cliff’s Notes are certainly worrying.

The recommendations highlighted in the report are potentially devastating for all creative industries, not just publishing. Bands and musicians have just as much reason to be concerned, particularly when copyright is such a crucial revenue source.

The most perturbing aspect of the commission’s report is its recommendation that the term for copyright in Australia be shortened from 70 years after a creator’s death to 15-to-25 years after the content has been created.

Since many musicians rely on royalties from their copyrighted material, the ramifications of such a recommendation becoming official policy are obvious. Music makers would essentially be stripped of their rights to their own work within 15 years.

Music Australia is currently drafting a response to the report, citing other recommendations such as not pursuing action against consumers who circumvent geoblocking technology and the issue of fair use as also being cause for concern.

“The report is recommending fair dealing be replaced with fair use,” they write. “This is another contested issue – the task will be to strike a balance that encourages innovation by rights users, while also properly remunerating rights owners, without undue complexity.”

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“There are recommendations in the report that would drastically change intellectual property arrangements, which are not backed by sound evidence. This brings into question the motivations behind this approach, and the potential for adverse impacts.”

Music Australia is urging any interested parties to make submissions to the Productivity Commission by 3rd June via the Productivity Commission website. The commission’s final report is due to be released in August, following the Federal Election.

According to the Canberra Times, the 15-to-25-year time period was agreed upon by the commission after ABS figures showed three-quarters of original literary works were retired after a year, with the commercial life of a book ranging between 1.4 and five years.

But such a conclusion completely ignores other creative industries that rely on copyright as its lifeblood, particularly music, which is becoming more and more dependent on syncs and other intellectual property matters to sustain itself.

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