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Thursday, 5 October 1911


Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I was glad to hear the Minister's explanation of the object of the Bill. I should take it that it does not interfere in any way with the relations already established on this subject by virtue of the Berne Convention of 1886. I believe that delegates duly appointed under that Convention have met since that year. That being the case, this measure is more or less formal, but important. It is keeping pace with the law of international copyright under that Convention, not only within the Empire, but also within the outside world. I desire to call the attention of the Minister to subclause 3 of proposed new clause 62. It reads -

Where a work is first published, performed, or produced simultaneously in more than one country, the country in which the shortest term of protection is granted shall be deemed to be the country of origin of the work.

That provision follows, to a certain point, the words of article 2 of the Berne Convention of 1885, which seems to have been omitted from our Act of 1905 ; but it omits the concluding portion of that article -

For unpublished works the country to which the author belongs is considered to be the country of the origin of the work.

What struck me when I looked through the measure was that the portion of article 2 of the Berne Convention which gives to authors an additional protection, and I think a very necessary protection, relating to unpublished works has not been incorporated. It frequently happens that most important works are not published until after the author's death. Take, for instance, Lord Acton's works. Many of them, in fact, the best of them, were not published until after his death. The Berne Convention seems to have protected the publication of the works, or, if it did not need protection to define the matter in this way, that the rights 'in unpublished works are governed by the law of the country of the origin of the author. It struck me that there must be a reason why that important protection was omitted from this measure.


Senator Vardon - Would not the executors of a deceased author have the same rights as he had?


Senator ST LEDGER - Possibly so; but the enforcement of an executor's rights under common law, or will, or settlement, is a very expensive thing. The enforcement pf rights which are clearly declared by Statute, is another and an easier thing. The portion of the article I referred to protects the rights of an author of unpublished works, whether he is living or dead. What struck me, I repeat, was that while the former portion of that article was adopted bodily in this measure, the latter portion was omitted. I have not had time to make a search, but it may be that under the principal Act the unpublished works of an author are protected. If the Minister can inform us to that effect the matter will be settled. It is advisable for him to consider whether the Bill ought not to take in the whole of that article of the Berne Convention.


Senator McGregor - Provision is made in section 7 of the principal Act in respect of unpublished works.


Senator ST LEDGER - I am glad to hear that statement from the Minister. As I said, I did not have time to make a search, and I thought that that probably was the reason for the omission. It still more strongly emphasizes the Minister's position that he is keeping our legislation in close touch with the legislation suggested by the Berne Convention.







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