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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4564

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:

(1)   Has the Government received a proposal from the Australian Society of Authors for the introduction of a public lending right system similar to that already operating in Denmark and Sweden and at present receiving consideration by the Governments of Finland, Norway, Holland and the United Kingdom.

(2)   Can the Attorney-General say what are the main features of the Danish legislation.

(3)   What are the main features of the proposal submitted by the Australian Society of Authors.

(4)   Does the Government favour any other system of ensuring that Australian authors are compensated for their work, and is any legislation under consideration to achieve this end.

(5)   In respect of each of the last 5 years, what funds have been allocated to the Commonwealth Literary Fund for disbursement to authors, and what are the names of the beneficiaries and the amounts paid in each case.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   The Australian Society of Authors has proposed to the Government that a public lending right scheme be introduced in Australia. Schemes that are frequently referred to as public lending right schemes are in operation or under consideration in the countries mentioned in the honourable member's question. Since there are, however, significant differences between the schemes in operation in the countries mentioned, it cannot be said that the scheme proposed by the Australian Society of Authors is similar to the schemes in all of those countries. One of the alternative proposals put forward by the Australian Society of Authors is for the introduction of a scheme that bears a marked resemblance to the scheme in operation in Denmark.

(2)   The Danish legislation gives an entitlement to authors who are Danish nationals to claim from a Government fund an annual payment based on the numbers of copies of books written by them held on the shelves of public lending libraries in Denmark.

(3)   The Australian Society of Authors has made two alternative proposals. One alternative is for the amendment of the Copyright Act 1968 to give authors, as part of the copyright in their books, the right to authorize the lending of their books. The other alternative is for the establishment of a fund for the making of payments to Australian authors on a basis similar to that under which payments arc made in Denmark.

(4)   An investigation of the proposal made by the Australian Society of Authors is being undertaken at present. The question of other possible systems of payment to authors would only arise in the event of a decision being made not to adopt one of the schemes proposed by the Australian Society of Authors.

(5)   This part of the honourable member's question refers to matters falling within the ministerial responsibility of the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. The Minister has been asked to supply the honourable member with a written answer to this part of the honourable member's question.

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