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Monday, 18 December 1905

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should like to point out to the Committee that about two years ago Lord Rosebery delivered a speech, which the Times newspaper published in a more or less condensed form, and the question arose as to whether the proprietors of the newspaper had such a copyright in the report as would enable them to prevent other persons from using it. The Court held that they had such a copyright.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa). - No country in, the world gives lecturing rights for so long a period as forty-two years. When a copyright is given to an author, he is bound to publish his work in order to take advantage of it, and when he does that, any one who wishes to do so can secure a copy of it. But, if a lecture is copyrighted, nobodycan enjoy it except those who actually go to hear it.

Mr Reid - And those living in towns which the lecturer never visits are for ever deprived of the opportunity of hearing it.

Mr CONROY - It would not cost a lecturer more than a few pounds to print any lecture in book form, even if it were as long as one of the speeches of the honorable member for Gwydir. That being done, he could copyright the book.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - In that case, he would lose his copyright in the lecture.

Mr CONROY - A lecturer's chief asset is his own personality. As the honorable and learned member for East Sydney has pointed out, the publication of even a short summary of a lecture might be construed as a breach of the provision. I do not think that lecturers should be permitted to prevent any person in the community who is willing to pay for the privilege from enjoying their compositions. Of course, w£ know that Mr. Ruskin, who was a crank, refused to allow the publication of any but the first edition of his works until towards the close of his lifetime, * with the result that his books became very expensive.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - There are not many cases like his.

Mr CONROY - No. While I do not value his criticism, I think very highly of the beautiful English of his writings, and the fine descriptions which they contain. I know something about political economy, and laugh at his criticisms on that subject ; and I am told that those who know something about art laugh at his art criticisms. Apparently those who know nothing about art, think his art criticisms very good, and those who know nothing about political economy, think his works on that subject very valuable. I think, however, that the man who enjoys the protection of the copyright law should not prevent the public from enjoying his works, and if a lecturer is to have his lecture rights protected for forty-two years, he should not be able to prevent the public from reading reports' of his lectures.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I suppose the honorable and learned member would give a lecturer a copyright in the oral deliverance of his lecture.

Mr CONROY - Yes; but not in the lecture itself, unless he cared to publish it. He could get it printed in the form in which he delivered it at an expense of £2, and would then be absolutely safeguarded. Moreover, he would be able to bring his lecture under the notice of people who had not had the advantage of hearing it.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A very good lecture might be given by a man with a poor delivery, and a lecturer with a good delivery might take it up and make it much more attractive.

Mr CONROY - Exactly. We are being asked to giveabnormal powers to a lecturer, and I think that it is proposed to go too far. Notice should be given in connexion with every lecture, instead of only at the beginning of a series of lectures. One lecture might be delivered to-day, and others at intervals of a month, and the notice might fade from the public recollection before the series was completed. I move -

That sub-clause 3 be left out.

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