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Wednesday, 25 June 1997
Page: 6312


Miss JACKIE KELLY(6.38 p.m.) —I rise to speak on the Copyright Amendment Bill 1997. The Australian copyright law tries to ensure that artists receive appropriate remuneration for their work. Often it is difficult for artists to monitor the use of their work on an individual basis, or for individual businesses to find the artists to remunerate them for their work. So collecting societies have formed to be a central contact point and clearing house. That reduces the burden of complying with copyright legislation for owners of small business.

Two of the copyright collecting societies that are alive and well in my electorate are APRA, the Australasian Performing Rights Association, and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, PPCA. These deal largely with music. This has relevance to a number of hairdressing businesses and a number of panel workshops in my area. A number of our small businesses do play music, and they have to pay $50 a year to APRA or PPCA. An issue running around our chamber of commerce recently has been the collection of these royalties.

I think it is an important point to make that these societies need to be aware, when they are operating under this legislation, of the cost-effectiveness of their operations. If they are collecting money from small businesses, small businesses want to be sure that that money is going back to the artist. Often it seems that the administrative work is just keeping these societies in business.

I use the instance of the Man about Town hairdressing salon in my area, which has received a number of threatening letters, to such an extent that the proprietor has just turned the radio off. That is not the intent of the legislation. It is not to be used as a whipping stick for people who are going about ordinary business. Certainly where music is a part of your business, as in the dance industry or in a coffee shop, where you are actually attracting clientele, you should be paying for the use of the artists' work, and some part of that should be going back to the artists.

I think a more appropriate place for the collection of this revenue would probably be at the radio stations. They are quite aware when they put things to air that people will turn on their radios and that people will be listening to them. If those radios happen to be listened to by two or more people, that would be in the ordinary course of business. Quite frequently in my electorate we have a number of cars going down the main street of Penrith with extremely loud music playing, and I am sure that is not in the definition of reproduction in public. So I think some sort of leeway needs to be exercised by those societies in their application of the strict sense of the law.

Given that, the Copyright Act is in fact intended to protect the interests of composers and songwriters, a much marginalised group. They are highly dependent on radio stations and big business to get air play and really are put under enormous pressure to get their music out and about in the arena and hopefully picked up as a major player and put on the air in that fashion, in order for them to make some money.

It is interesting for small businesses in my area—restaurants, cafes, coffee lounges, roadhouses, reception houses, bistros, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and similar establishments—to note that PPCA will give you a licence for $45.62 up to 60 people, $61.37 from 61 to 100 people, $91.95 from 100 to 200 people, and $105 for over 200 people. That is a reasonable fee, payable in advance, but there does seem to be a problem where there are maybe one or two transitory people or, as in a complaint I have had in my electorate, a backyard workshop in the panel beating area, where no-one else should be going, and certainly no members of the public. Young guys are just playing the music for themselves, probably much to the employer's disgust, and he has to pay a fee and he gets very irate. It gets to the stage now where everybody is individually bringing their radios to work.

I think APRA or PPCA will probably have to start looking at an alternative point of contact in terms of collecting these fees, otherwise we are going to end up with the ridiculous situation of everyone having to license their radio. That did not work in the past and I cannot see it working in the future.

With this bill we are not out to increase the burden on small business. It certainly is not intended to do that. It was one of the commitments we made going into the election. It is intended to give fair and legitimate coverage to performing artists and their work. Often these days you have to be dead before you make any money out of art. We are trying to make it so you can make a living, quite literally, out of the arts. This bill goes some way to giving further protection in this much needed area. I commend the bill to the House.