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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26409

Senator RIDGEWAY (9:01 PM) —I have a couple of questions for the minister on copyright extension. With regard to the CIE report that the government has relied on so extensively to support its arguments about the free trade agreement and about why it ought to be passed, the Senate select committee noted that the CIE report did not even address the question of intellectual property and, more particularly, the costs to be borne of additional royalty payments as a result of extending copyright by a further 20 years. I would ask the minister whether or not he is aware of any investigation or review that has been done by the government. I understand that one may have been done by DCITA that looks into the likely impact of the extension of a copyright term by 20 years. Is that publicly available? Is the minister prepared to release any of that information to make it quite clear to the parliament and certainly to the public what the additional costs, which were identified by Dr Dee as part of the Senate select committee process, will be? Quite frankly, they have been overlooked.

Considering that copyright was originally established to encourage education and learning, I would ask whether or not it is a valid argument to extend copyright by a further 20 years and whether or not that is an incentive to be educated and to learn, given that most information does go into the public domain after 50 years. An additional 20 years, taking it up to 70 years after the death of an author or creator, essentially will mean that additional costs will have to be borne by someone. In this particular case, it will be taxpayers in Australia, particularly for libraries, schools and universities. I wonder whether the minister might be able to say whether there has been any analysis done by any government departments or at least by government, or whether it is asking CIE to look at that particular question, because that was completely missed in the CIE report. The government has made very little mention at all of what is the largest chapter in the free trade agreement.