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STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS
15/04/2009
Reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media

CHAIR —I now welcome to the table representatives of the Australian Football League. Thank you very much, Mr McLachlan and Mr Lethlean, for coming along to talk to us today. The committee has received your submission as submission number 26. Do you wish to make any amendments or alterations to your submission?

Mr McLachlan —No.

CHAIR —Thank you. Do you wish to make a brief opening statement before we go to questions?

Mr McLachlan —I do, and I apologise in advance for potentially repeating some of what we talked about in the previous session. I thank you for the opportunity to present, and I want to make three points at the outset. The first is now certainly well known, and we are similar to all of our peers who appeared previously in that we are a not-for-profit entity. All of the surpluses go back to our clubs, community programs, facilities and other programs. With the consent of the committee, I will table Next Generation Strategies: securing the future of Australian Football, a paper that essentially outlines where all of our funds go and the initiatives being undertaken over a five-year period.

The second point I would make is that the heart of those moneys and the heart of our business is intellectual property and the protection of that. That is not only the vision and the audio and the images but also our trademarks and our designs, and that really is the business we are in, protecting our copyright and protecting our intellectual property. The third point is that we absolutely support the freedom of the press and the role of the media in promoting and reporting on our game. As I said earlier, we have around 750 accredited media. We have over 600 media who actually support those accredited media in terms of back-up crews and others. Today is not about freedom of the press or the role of the press. I guess moreover it is not about the reporting of news exceptions in the Copyright Act. We support both of these absolutely, and ultimately the media are our key partners.

As you have talked about in the excellent terms of reference, you clearly articulate and acknowledge that today is about the balance between commercial and public interests in the reporting and broadcasting of sports news. It is about copyright legislation that originated in an analogue linear world and which is now exploited in a digital world in a way that was never contemplated. I guess it is essentially legislation that has not kept up, allowing the key driver of sports business models protection of their IP to be undermined. This is exacerbated by the ease with which content can be appropriated in a digital environment, the multiple digital platforms on which content can be easily disseminated, and the high cost of policing infringement and enforcing copyright through litigation.

Succinctly, our issue is about the extent of the use of our copyrighted material and the breadth of it, and how we find the balance that I talked about earlier. It plays directly into the question of an entertainment offering versus a news offering, and goes to the heart of the protection of our IP. As I said earlier, in the end, this is all we have. It is critical to the survival of the sporting bodies represented here today that we find the right balance.

The imbalance of power between the media and the not-for-profit sporting entities means that we cannot find the balance ourselves using accreditation, as we cannot live without the coverage they threaten to deny us when they do not accept our accreditation terms. This is the irony, I guess, and Senator Birmingham talked to it before. We need an independent free press so much that we cannot self-regulate to stop them abusing our intellectual property. In the end we look for legislative leadership to determine what this balance is. We all need news reported, and reported independently, but this cannot be at the expense of the right to protect one’s intellectual property, in this case specifically copyright. We look for clarity, and in this context note that the fair dealing doctrine is an exemption for breaching copyright and reporting news, and not a right. Additionally, by definition, it must be fair.

We have outlined a proposed set of reforms in our submission that go to volume, frequency and duration as well as speaking to commercialisation of our content. I look forward to any questions on this.

CHAIR —Thank you very much, Mr McLachlan. Mr Lethlean, did you wish to add anything?

Mr Lethlean —Nothing at this stage.

CHAIR —Mr McLachlan, sports organisations say that if something is not done their revenue will be affected. I think last week you were talking up AFL’s broadcasting rights as being in the order of $1 billion for the next round, so it does not seem to us like—

Mr McLachlan —Just to clarify it, I was asked would we like to get $1 billion, and I said I would like to get $1 billion, but we can hope.

CHAIR —I think it was $700 million last time?

Mr McLachlan —In the order, yes.

CHAIR —Do you expect that amount of money to go down or up?

Mr McLachlan —No, we are very confident in the value of our media rights. I guess the vast majority of that comes from a traditional environment of free-to-air and pay television. Our real concern is, as the speed of our broadband evolves, as the internet and mobile technology grows as a more mainstream and a contemporary tool, how those revenues might be undermined and how ultimately as we look to the future what will happen.

CHAIR —But there is no evidence yet that the amount of revenue that you can earn from broadcasting rights has been affected?

Mr McLachlan —No, I would say it has already been affected. I actually say that we are losing revenue currently because of the way the legislation is structured. If you look at the fact that some organisations are syndicating our content and on-selling it to other news organisations, the fact that some companies are selling photos online, selling galleries that are not accredited, that some companies are running ads at the front and back end of our vision are essentially using it in an entertainment offer, archiving that vision, that undermines all of our new media partners rights and Telstra, and essentially the money we currently receive is undermined by that.

CHAIR —But where is it affecting you as a sport? Show me that the current situation has meant that AFL teams cannot pay their players as much as they used to. Show me that you are not contributing as much money to programs for youngsters who want to play football. Where is the actual detriment being manifest?

Mr McLachlan —It is in the new media space, I guess. I am not saying that our business is not growing, but this is an incredibly important part. If I take one step back, over 50 per cent of our revenues are coming from media broadly, and this is an evolving and emerging space. This continues to undermine rights we sell in the new media space, and as this platform grows it will continue to have a larger and larger impact and actually inhibit our ability to grow. I do not think we are representing that this ultimately is the end of sporting bodies and the AFL, but it actually has a significant impact on our business now and it will be an increasing impact going forward.

Senator WORTLEY —You said that it is already affecting your revenue. When you say it is already affecting your revenue, you are just talking about the income that you hope you will receive and so on for the forthcoming year. Are you saying it is already affecting your revenue or potential revenue?

Mr McLachlan —I think both. At the moment we are not receiving money we should be receiving in a number of instances, and I talked to those, whether it is in a selling of photographic images that other entities are selling of our game, whether it is the amount we are receiving for our new media rights. If we were able to give certainty in this space, we would be able to derive more revenue. Ongoing it will have an impact on our revenue.

Senator WORTLEY —So your argument really is about potential revenue? You have not seen a decrease in your income; you are talking about possible areas that you can pick up on?

Mr McLachlan —No. But I think in the present sense we are writing less revenue now than we should be, because of the ability of media organisations to commercialise our content under the guise of the fair dealing provisions.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —If the laws were as you would like them to be, do you believe that Telstra or some other partner through mobile technology would be paying more than Telstra currently pays you?

Mr McLachlan —That is my proposition, yes.

Senator LUNDY —Who have you excluded from your venues?

Mr McLachlan —We have not excluded any—

Senator LUNDY —Have you excluded some photographers from your venues?

Mr McLachlan —Two years ago, in 2005 and 2006, AAP were accredited photographers. They had not asked for accreditation before that. There was an issue around change of a photographic supplier. They were very comfortable when Getty were the supplier. They were not happy when there was a change to Geoff Slattery Publishing.

Senator LUNDY —Why were they excluded?

Mr McLachlan —They are not a publisher, they are a syndicator of content. In their submission they talk about the fact that they are selling those images to other entities. We accredit their journalists. All their journalists are allowed to come in and cover the game, but in terms of actually selling those photographs, we were very happy for them to continue to provide the photographs—

Senator LUNDY —Some of those photographs would have been used for news purposes?

Mr McLachlan —Yes. They were sold to newspaper companies.

Senator LUNDY —That is for news.

Mr McLachlan —Yes, but the images are equally available from any number of sources for sale. Essentially, we were restricting someone who was syndicating and selling our photographs.

Mr Lethlean —Just to clarify that, we did not exclude them from entering the grounds. They would not agree to our accreditation terms by which they were not able to syndicate to non-news reporting agencies.

Senator LUNDY —So you set terms that were—

Mr Lethlean —Terms that everyone else agreed to.

Senator LUNDY —It is a bit semantic, but they certainly felt that they were excluded on the basis that you came up with new restrictions about what they could do that they could not agree to.

Mr Lethlean —They are terms and conditions that are standard across all sports now to move with the times to deal with the digital platforms and how content in sports is being syndicated, packaged and sold for non-news reporting purposes.

Senator LUNDY —I would like to go back a step regarding the AFL’s concerns about the potential impact on your sport. Because we are dealing with a whole raft of new forms of media in a digital environment it seems to me that the AFL is trying to reach in and ask that copyright provisions be extended into this new area to provide the AFL with a far greater degree of control for the purposes of deriving some revenues from it. Is that an accurate description as to what you are trying to achieve?

Mr McLachlan —No. We are not asking for the copyright provisions to be altered at all, what we are asking for is that the exceptions to the copyright be more prescriptive to stop the abuse. We have not shied away from the fact that selling photographs and selling vision is at the heart of our business. We had an example with AAP where they were selling those photographs to News Limited, Fairfax and all of those companies. Where they are using those photographs for the reporting of news we accredit them and they are at every game today.

Mr Lethlean —I can clarify that. The AFL is very comfortable with its copyright ownership in its vision, which it organises through a contractual arm of their broadcasters. We are also very comfortable with the extent of our accreditation terms as we can currently achieve them by way of making conditional copyright arrangements with our news reporters. We are not comfortable with how that copyright is being exploited for the purpose of reporting news, and that is what we are seeking clarity on. We are not seeking clarity on copyright ownership.

Senator WORTLEY —I would just like some clarification. What was your concern with AAP? Who were they selling the photographs to?

Mr McLachlan —Other syndications. They syndicated that content and on-sold to others.

Senator WORTLEY —Media organisations?

Mr McLachlan —Yes.

Senator WORTLEY —Did you have a problem with the fact that they were on-selling them to other media news organisations who were not able to be there?

Mr McLachlan —No. They could often be there. With other media organisations there is a supplier of photographs who sells those photos to that entity. That is essentially what we do. We sell images and our content.

Senator LUNDY —You are now in the business of hiring professional photographers for the purposes of supplying the demand of the news media.

Mr McLachlan —If they are not able to send photographers themselves.

Senator LUNDY —But they were and you excluded them.

Mr McLachlan —No. They were not using those photographs themselves, they were syndicating that content.

Senator LUNDY —That is what you are doing if you are selling them yourselves.

Mr McLachlan —That is right. That is what we see our business as doing, selling our content. There is a distinction here. If someone wants to report the news, come and take photographs and publish those in their papers then we are absolutely comfortable with that. There has not been any example that I know of where any accreditation has been knocked back on that basis. Similarly, the AAP print journalists are still accredited to this day. In terms of actually taking photographs and then on-selling them to other parties, we see that as part of our business.

Senator WORTLEY —What about country newspapers? I understand an example was where you did not want the AAP to on-sell them to country newspapers.

Mr McLachlan —No, that is not true.

Mr Lethlean —We never had an issue with AAP or Gettys selling photographs for the purposes of reporting news to anybody that was a news reporting agency. The issue was that they were not prepared to deal with the second arm of our accreditation terms in respect to what they do on a commercial aspect with that, for instance, selling a photo of a footballer for use in posters in newsagents or stores. It is commercial gain activities, not news reporting activities.

Senator WORTLEY —It has nothing to do with AAP on-selling to country newspapers or other media organisations?

Mr Lethlean —No. Those newspapers still have the exact same access they had by way of our licensed accredited agencies.

Senator WORTLEY —Thank you for that clarification.

Senator LUNDY —Is that not how news agencies do business in that someone takes the photos and other news agencies buy those photos?

Mr Lethlean —Yes, for reporting for news, yes, but not for commercial sale.

Senator LUNDY —If someone is providing news content then how do you know and how can you make the distinction up front?

Mr Lethlean —Did you pay $10 for a poster of a player that has no news attached to it? That is a commercial venture that as sports rights holders in that content we should be able to sell.

Senator LUNDY —So there is no such thing as photo journalism?

Mr Lethlean —I do not think I said that.

Senator LUNDY —I know, but that is the implication of your answer, that there is no intrinsic reporting value within a photograph or an image.

Mr Lethlean —We have already said that we are comfortable with the news agencies owning copyright in their photographs so long as the conditions that they agree to are adhered to in reporting news with those photos. If you look at print newspapers currently reporting on a match and showing three photos in the newspaper, as compared to a 40-photo gallery on line, there is a clear distinction there in the fact that the news reporting has changed on both those platforms.

Senator LUNDY —What is it that you want from the digital space and the use of images in the digital space? I asked this question of Cricket Australia. Do you want to control it completely?

Mr Lethlean —I do not think that it is control.

Senator LUNDY —Do you want a share of the revenues from it? What do you want to do?

Mr Lethlean —Mr McLachlan can talk about the share of the revenue. We have enunciated a couple of times now that we are not seeking to control news reporting. We are not seeking for a definition of what is news. We are seeking some clarity and a definition around what is fair use of sports content which is owned by the AFL, other sports or news agencies themselves in how they can be applied to reporting news. We are not seeking to define news.

Senator LUNDY —In essence you are. When you say defining fair use of content that everyone, for all intents and purposes, are in full agreement forms part of what constitutes news in the digital environment, essentially you are asking for a definition of what constitutes news in its multimedia formats.

Mr Lethlean —I do not think that we all agree on the use. We are all at odds about what the use is.

Senator LUNDY —I meant that we all agree that news is news. I have not heard any objection from anyone that having a news package about your sport is in some way not desirable. Your complaint is how, when you get beyond the elements of that package—for instance, footage—it could be subsequently exploited.

Mr McLachlan —In the end what we are talking about is the question of balance. Through our history of accrediting journalists and promoting coverage of our sport we need, want and encourage the widest possible coverage of our game. The issue is where that bleeds over into media organisations doing what they do, monetising that content and essentially monetising our intellectual property.

Senator LUNDY —As opposed to you monetising it?

Mr McLachlan —Exactly right. That is our content. We are not shying away from that. This is our content. We run a business. We are a not-for-profit entity where everything goes back into the community. Our business is to monetise our content and to put that money back into the community and everything where we are doing it. The media companies are very clearly there to monetise the media. Where it goes from reporting of news to actually the commercialisation of our content is what we are talking about here. It is at the margin and it is difficult.

Senator LUNDY —You said the core of your business is your intellectual property.

Mr McLachlan —Yes.

Senator LUNDY —I put to you that the core of your business is content described by what you call your intellectual property right, but in fact, given the economies of sport in that you get revenues from broadcasting rights which are driven by the fact that you have a sponsor in place that has value because of the broadcasting rights, so it all kind of fits together as a sport in that it is actually in the interest of your sources of revenue, that is your sponsors and your broadcasting rights holder, that that content proliferates anyway and that that competing interest against the AFL’s interest of deriving revenues from the production of your own digital content is actually at cross purposes.

Mr McLachlan —It is a delicate balance and it is at the heart of the issue.

Senator LUNDY —Will there ever be a point where revenue from your digital content that you produce and manage will outstrip what your sport earns from both your sponsorship and your broadcast rights revenue? That is what you are contending.

Mr McLachlan —I do not make a distinction between new digital rights or broadcast rights. In about five or six years, certainly with the national broadband roll-out, they will be the same thing. The era of pushing media out of different platforms is about to be useless here. Certainly, the Olympics now sell slots rather than buy platforms, so I do not make that distinction. If you get to the fact that our broadcast rights broadly are the heart of our business and they are, by a multiple, more than any of our sponsorship.

Senator LUNDY —I would like to go to the point about your internet rights and Telstra. How does that arrangement work with Telstra insofar as they are procuring that fee to mobile devices and the internet?

Mr McLachlan —They have an exclusive licence in what is a non-free-to-air and non-pay television space, which is essentially the best way of describing it, in new media, which is both the internet and mobile. They pick up the signal from our free-to-air partners. They are subject contractually to a holdback. Within that holdback they have a number of minutes that they are able to show highlights packages and distribute over those platforms.

Senator LUNDY —What does Telstra pay for those rights?

Mr McLachlan —It is a confidential number, but it is millions of dollars.

Senator LUNDY —I presume that those rights are sold on the basis that the news reporting regime is still out there and functioning. Is this something additional to news reporting?

Mr McLachlan —Yes. It is an exclusive offer of vision. It is the point I made earlier about actually defining what is an entertainment offer and an exclusive package of highlights as opposed to news, which is very blurry at the moment. We have a strong view, as you might be able to tell, about where that is, but it is very difficult for us, for a variety of reasons, to enforce it.

Senator LUNDY —Just to finish, can you describe to the committee what Telstra have paid for and how that differs specifically to news reporting of your content?

Mr McLachlan —They have essentially paid for the exclusive right to distribute our content, which is therefore our intellectual property as we can defend it, online and on the mobile. That is a whole series of things that is exclusive content. It is our audio streams of the radio broadcast, our intellectual property in the guernseys, jumpers and the logos, and our match vision to the extent to which we can protect it. The extent that we can is getting increasingly difficult with the use of this fair dealing provision.

Senator LUNDY —Have Telstra initiated any litigation with respect to any claims they have of breach of their right?

Mr McLachlan —Yes, they have. Mr Mattiske talked earlier about an action against News Limited.

Mr Lethlean —Telstra brought the AFL into a proceeding against News Limited four months ago about the streaming of links from their news websites straight to YouTube, which was seen to be outside the fair dealing provisions and it was settled before it went to court.

Senator LUNDY —What role have Telstra played in arguing for the AFL to take a stronger position on the protection of digital rights in this regard?

Mr McLachlan —Their position is clear. Again, like a lot of media companies, at different points they are rights owners and at different times they are media companies wanting to use the fair dealing provisions. I do not think that our position is in any way affected by the views of Telstra. They are very strong in that, ‘This goes to the heart of our business and we need protection. We want freedom of press.’

Senator LUNDY —It is interesting that they have brought an action but we have not received a submission from them.

Mr McLachlan —I cannot comment on that.

Senator WORTLEY —You said that Telstra brought an action against News Limited and it was settled out of court. If there was provision for that to be able to occur then why do you see that there needs to be changes to address those issues?

Mr Lethlean —That is a discussion that can be had at length. In short, it is an expensive exercise to seek litigation to enforce your rights. There was a six-month process for one infringement on two websites that cost six-figure sums in legal fees only to get to court to then be settled. If you want to instigate those proceedings every time there is a breach of undefined and unregulated guidelines around an exception to the copyright act, then we are going to pretty busy and incurring a great deal of expense.

Mr McLachlan —The other comment that I would make is that it also assumes that we are happy with the settlement that was reached. These are media companies reaching settlements between each other, and I do not think that actually translates that the AFL was happy with the settlement that was reached.

Senator LUNDY —Are you under any pressure from Telstra with respect to their internet and mobile rights to resolve this issue?

Mr McLachlan —We are not under specific pressure from Telstra. The whole ability to sell broadcast rights on mobile and new media platforms is uncertain without resolution of this issue. Ultimately, if it can be exploited by all media companies and commercialised beyond what I believe is the fair reporting of news, then this area, as I talked to you before, will always be an area where other people are making money by exploiting our rights.

Mr Lethlean —I do not think that Telstra believe that we will resolve the issue either. I think they are just seeking some clarity on what they are buying conditionally. They are buying that conditionally based on the exceptions to the Copyright Act.

Senator LUNDY —Thank you.

CHAIR —We will need to wind up. Senator Birmingham.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —We had an instance about 10 years ago of a media company attempting to set up a sporting league. It did not work out so well.

Mr McLachlan —I have heard about that.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Do you foresee the type of instance in the future where sporting leagues are acting increasingly like media companies in terms of the provision of vision themselves that extends beyond even the type of photographic content that you were just discussing with Senator Lundy?

Mr McLachlan —If you look at it internationally there are some examples of where that happens as sporting leagues continue to grow in terms of playing different roles in the broadcasting of their product and being broadcasters. It is plausible, but that is different from being a news organisation. We see a great distinction in being a broadcaster and having a role in broadcasting your games, as opposed to reporting news and reporting the outcomes of the games, the results and the highlights. We will never be able to usurp that. Whether we play a role in the broadcast of our games is not on the short-term radar, but if you look internationally there are some examples of it.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —In your submission you go to some length with Real Footy as an example. You accredit Fairfax to come in and take pictures and you recognise those Fairfax photographers as photographers for the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the FIM, other Fairfax publications and presumably Real Footy. Is that correct? Do you recognise their accreditation across all Fairfax media?

Mr McLachlan —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —You say in your submission that the use of the photographic images in the way that Real Footy uses them is in contravention of AFL’s accreditation arrangements and damages the AFL’s ability to license the online and mobile photographic image rights of AFL matches. Ignoring the latter part of that, about it damaging your ability, but going to the specific contravention of accreditation arrangements, in what way is Real Footy breaching Fairfax’s accreditation arrangements?

Mr McLachlan —In the broader sense they are accredited to report the news of the game. In our view, the way that is translating when there are 30-odd images of a game still up some two weeks after the event, and ultimately they are creating a gallery of images and creating a portal of content, is where the abuse comes. Mr Lethlean might like to talk a bit more specifically about that. That goes to the three things. It is the volume of images out there, whether it is vision or static images; the length of time that they are up there; and the frequency of that. Ultimately, they will continue to aggregate all of this content and at some point that goes beyond reporting news and actually creating a portal of content that can be commercialised. That is where we see our role, actually commercialising our content. That is the real heart of this. Given that there is this non-linear platform where people can pull information down and people can aggregate it with minutes of vision and hundreds of photos, they become essentially someone who is reselling AFL content rather than strictly reporting the news. The heart of it is that these media organisations are becoming quasi rights holders and commercialising these rights online that we see as our domain.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Have you taken up what you see as a breach of the accreditation with Fairfax?

Mr Lethlean —We certainly have and their response, in short, is, ‘You can’t tell us how to report news.’ In the current environment we cannot, but we can express that we believe it is a breach of our copyright and a breach of the exemptions under the Copyright Act. The next step is to start proceedings and take litigation.

Mr McLachlan —That goes to the heart of it. James talked about a blunt instrument. We have two approaches: accreditation, by which we can control access, or litigation. Neither of them is very palatable. We need the media. We want the media there covering our games and reporting them. They are very important to us and they are our partners. Given that they are our partners we do not want to be in court with them, plus it is a long and expensive process.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Would Fairfax’s response be, ‘Throw us out if you are game or take us to court if you are game’?

Mr Lethlean —That would be their response. We have had very casual discussions about it. It is the response certainly at the time of dealing with accreditation, which is always in November of the off season. We have gone through many iterations of how those terms look, from far more bullish versions to the one that we actually settle on. Discussions do lead down the path that they will not agree to such restrictions. Inevitably they are pared back and we then deal with things as matters arise.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —In terms of the types of restrictions that you have proposed you have outlined in some detail in potential reforms the restrictions that you would apply would be match content A through to F, with point F having some six sub-points to it, which is quite a range of restrictions, with some of those restrictions being long accepted practice in traditional media, such as the retail sale of photographs. News Limited, Fairfax and so on have long sold via retail means photographs that they have taken. Inserting advertising into content; there can be an argument as to exactly what the definition of ‘inserting’ necessarily is there. My footy lift-out in the Advertiser could just as easily be sponsored by the Holden Commodore which is in direct competition, of course, with your major naming rights sponsor. In these instances why should potentially tougher restrictions be applied just because of the digital environment than have applied to a traditional media environment?

Mr McLachlan —In respect to the images and the sale of those images, that is still in breach of their accreditation. It is just the imbalance of power and our reluctance to stop the accreditation of the journalists because we want them there covering our game. We have always had an issue with that. Currently, the accreditation that News Limited operates under prohibits the resale of their photographs, but they do it anyway. We have long accepted that as part of it because they are a key partner for us. We need them, they need us and we have a very good relationship.

They have a different strategic agenda to us in this area and it comes down to the heart of when and how they start, in our view, monetising our content rather than using it as a supplement to report the news. Our views might be prescriptive and might be strong, but we believe that using photographs to supplement your stories is very different from them selling a gallery. Using our vision to tell a news story in the context of reporting on a game, and actually adding the colour to that story, is different from them running ads before and after that and actually using it as a selling piece. It is different from using our vision to put a syndicated package of AFL content together and then on-selling it to other mobile operators, wireless operators, as currently happens. All of these forms are examples of them commercialising our content to other third parties, either sponsors, advertisers, consumers and other companies, as opposed to using that to add to the flavour of them reporting the news on our event.

Mr Lethlean —I might add that all of which put us in breach of other arrangements with the sponsors and other content providers that we have licences with, which we would need to go and enforce if we sought to enforce that under the copyright exclusions.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —I should have asked this of COMPS. Have COMPS or have you, on a bilateral basis with other organisations, considered joining together to try to establish sufficient resources to pursue a test case at any stage to see whether the current laws are actually satisfactory?

Mr McLachlan —We have not organised that. We have not talked specifically amongst the COMPS group about that. You might see that there are different views within COMPS. Broadly we are completely aligned, but in terms of the way to proceed, I think we have different views.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Thank you.

Senator LUNDY —I am again trying to get inside your head as an organisation to understand where you are coming from here. Is your aim to try and control your content to maximise your ability to sell the rights to other parties, or is your business strategy to hold onto that content yourself for the purposes of being a distributor, for example with the sale of photographs yourselves, or is it a combination of both?

Mr McLachlan —The model depends in terms of commercialisation. Sometimes we might sell ourselves and sometimes we might be a licensor. We would never try to stop news reporting. We never have and never will. As I said before, it is incredibly important to us.

Senator LUNDY —That is not my question.

Mr McLachlan —Let us then step to your question about how we monetise our intellectual property, whether it is vision or photographs, would differ depending on the model. We may then decide that we would sell our photos directly to people who had a need for those, whether they are consumers or others. We may license that to a third party to do that, depending on the risk, the views of the business and others. It would depend on a case-by-case basis.

Senator LUNDY —Is the challenge ultimately for the AFL to just have the best website and to continue to innovate, given the big lesson of the internet is that you cannot control it and that content will continue to proliferate despite the grand efforts of every government around the whole world in trying to lock down content? That is the challenge of every policy that every government tries in this area. It is extremely difficult to do. Music is a great example; the industry adapts through innovation.

Mr McLachlan —I think that is right. The view about how you monetise the internet continues to evolve. It is different now than it was six months ago and it will be different again in 12 months. How we go to market on that platform is an evolving view as the platform evolves. In the end, we come back to this: we own the vision, the copyright in that vision, and other people using that and monetising that is what we have issue with. That is exacerbated by the digital space, but it is the same on any platform.

Senator LUNDY —Thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you for your submission and attendance at the committee hearing today. The committee will suspend for lunch.

Proceedings suspended from 1.12 pm to 2.03 pm