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Wednesday, 1 November 2006
Page: 36

Mr NEVILLE (11:11 AM) —Copyright is very important in encouraging and rewarding creative work. It ensures that creators are fairly remunerated for their work. It fosters creativity and spurs on the distribution of new and original works. It is the cornerstone of the successful development of cultural industries and a guarantee that a creative author of a particular work receives financial recognition for his or her efforts. As is to be expected in the creative field, technology is constantly evolving and our laws must keep pace with this evolution.

Amendments contained in the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 will ensure that our copyright laws remain amongst the best in the world, while extending greater flexibility to consumers. Keeping pace with changing technology is not easy. When this government passed the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act in 2000, the legislation was groundbreaking, putting Australia at the forefront as one of the first countries in the world to update its copyright laws to deal with the digital revolution.

But since then the internet and digital technologies have created new challenges and opportunities all affecting copyright. For consumers, more copyright material is available online and can be easily transferred into different formats. Copyright owners have new distribution channels. But the owners also face challenges, such as widespread unauthorised file sharing of music and films. As it stands, millions of Australians are technically breaking our copyright laws every time they reproduce copyrighted material for personal use—everything from copying music from CDs to MP3 players to recording a television broadcast to be watched with family or friends at a later time.

The bill gives people who own copies of certain types of material the ability to copy that material into different formats. For example, books and magazines will be able to be scanned so that they can be used in digital devices. People can also copy music from a personal music collection into a different format. For example, privately owned CDs, audio tapes or vinyl records will be able to be copied into MP3 or other digital formats to use in an iPod or in a computer. The case of copying musical material into digital format is a very pertinent example of why our copyright laws need updating to keep abreast of this modern technology.

This year Australians will spend around $30 million on digital music downloads and recent research done by business information analysts IBISWorld predicts that the figure will double by next year. By 2010, it is expected that the figure will have grown exponentially to be worth $200 million. That is a huge increase and it is proof that the way we access, use and listen to music is transforming our entertainment quite rapidly.

The CD market has matured as consumers turn to digital music players such as iPods and make more use of features such as iTunes and mobile ringtones. In fact, by 2010 the mobile phone ringtone market is expected to post double digit growth, which is double the predicted growth rate for the total recorded music market. Obviously, our local music industry has to embrace these new technologies and the law must always keep pace with them as they emerge.

The bill also allows other forms of media to be copied into different formats to suit the changing face of technology. For instance, analog copies of movies and documentaries will be able to be copied into digital format—that is, to DVD format. The bill also extends the right for libraries, museums, archives, education institutions and people with a disability to access copyright material for the purpose of teaching. By providing more flexibility in using copyright material for socially useful purposes, we are opening up a whole new sphere of online learning for members of the public and giving people with disabilities the tools to access material which they may not have previously been able to obtain. Hand in hand with this increased flexibility is a strengthening of copyright protections for these new materials.

Given the potential of technology and its rapid development, copyright owners face an uphill battle to protect their interests into the future. The Australian Institute of Criminology has stated:

Privacy has become a growth industry, so much so, that it may strain the capacity of governments to control it.

The AIC has already reported that the advent of digital technology has further enhanced the possibility for forgery, plagiarism and other offences against intellectual property. I understand that the agency will be researching the nature and extent of piracy and counterfeiting in Australia. The reality is that it is increasingly easier to infringe copyright, so this bill introduces reforms to combat online copyright piracy and piracy which takes place in the wider community.

A 2001 report commissioned by the Australian Copyright Council and Centre for Copyright Studies reported that for the period 1999-2000 Australia’s copyright industries contributed $19.2 billion in industry gross product. In terms of value-adding, this represented 3.3 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product at that time, proving that the value-added contribution by our copyright industries is of significance to the overall Australian economy.

Copyright reliant industries are also a significant employer in Australia. The most recently available figures indicate that in June 2000—the figures are not totally up to date but they are an indicator—about four per cent of Australia’s workforce, or around 345,000 people at that time, were employed in copyright related industries. I suppose we can extrapolate from that that the figure will have expanded in more recent times. This is comparable to employment levels in sectors such as government administration, defence and personal and other services.

The industry also has a growing employment profile, with job numbers increasing from around 312,000 in 1995-96 to nearly 345,000, which I mentioned, in 1999-2000—representing an average annual growth rate of 2.7 per cent. Again, if we extrapolate that and go forward six years we can see that it will have increased by about 16 per cent since then. These statistics underline the importance of getting our copyright laws right and protecting income, jobs and exports that Australia relies on but, at the same time, having a strong and flexible enforcement regime.

I wish to comment briefly on the concerns of the shadow minister. She was stretching the elastic a bit when she asked whether we could record material for personal or domestic use but it would not be useable outside the home. My advice is that, if you are using a recording device while jogging, that does not offend. If you are playing music in your car, that does not offend. Where it would have an implication would be in recording film or music clips—the hand-held devices which would come into channel B, which we are likely to see in the not too distant future. You can understand that that would offend because that is the very field which such technology will deliver to the public.

The bill is sensible and I commend the minister. I believe the bill will ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of copyright control. I commend the bill to the House.