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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That the amendments be agreed to.

On these amendments, perhaps, it would be convenient for me to indicate to honorable senators the general effect of the amendments contained in the schedule to the message. The first amendment to which we are asked to agree is contained in clause 17, which defines the term of copyright, performing right, and lecturing right. It will be remembered that when the Bill was first introduced here, the term given the author of these rights was the life of the author, plus thirty years afterwards. After a very long debate, the term was altered to a period of forty-two years, or the author's life, and seven years, whichever of those two periods should last the longer. Having made that amendment, it was necessary that some verbal and consequential alterations should take place in sub-clause 2 of clause 17. These verbal or consequential alterations were not done at the table, but were left to be carried out in the ordinary course by the Clerk, and were not correctly entered. It was noticed when the Bill was going to the other House that they had nol been correctly entered, because the clause read -

The copyright, performing right, or lecturing right, as the case may be, shall subsist for the term of forty-two years, or for the author's life and sevenyears, whichever shall last the longer, after the end of the year in which such first publication or performance or delivery took place, and no longer.

In the light of the amendment we had made, all those words were absolutely surplusage, and have been struck out in the other House. In sub-clause 3 of the same clause, it was provided that in. the case of joint authors -

The copyright and the performing right shall subsist for the- term of forty-two years or their joint lives and the life of the survivor of them, and seven years, and no longer.

In order to be in conformity with the period which we had adopted, it should have read - for their joint lives and the life of the survivor of them, and seven years, whichever shall last the longer.

The third amendment to which we are asked to agree is a more important one, and that is to omit clause 34, in which we proposed to give protection to newspapers in the enjoyment of an exclusive right to certain cables, and to which was added here a number of conditions under which alone the proprietor of newspapers in these circumstances could enjoy these exclusive rights. It will be remembered that the clause as amended was reconsidered, and that there was considerable debate on each side. My honorable colleague and myself, while expressing the belief that there ought to be, at any rate, some consideration given to the representations made by those -who insisted on those conditions, advised the Committee that it was not the correct place in which to insert such legislative provisions. In the other House the clause has not been considered. It has been thought there that it should be dealt with separately, and should not embarrass the passage of a Bill such as this, 'containing very important provisions. Therefore it has been struck out. The fourth amendment relates to clause 42, which reads- -

When the owner of the copyright in any artistic work, being a painting, or a statute, bust, or other like work, disposes of such work for valuable consideration, but does not assign the copyright therein, the owner of the copyright (except in this section mentioned) shall not make a replica of such work, without the consent in writing of the owner of the original work.

The House of Representatives made two amendments in the clause, in order to provide that, in the absence of any agreement in writing to the contrary, the owner may make a replica of such work. It simply shifts the responsibility of providing the writing; in other words, the artist parts with the artistic work, but not with the copyright in it. As the Bill left the Senate he had not the power to make a. replica of the work without the consent, in writing, to the person to whom it was sold. But under the amendment " of the House of Representatives he can make a replica of the work, unless he is barred from doing so by an agreement, in writing, made with the purchaser. One other amendment does not appear on the schedule. It is consequential upon the omission of clause 34, and is contained in clause 7-5. Sub-clause 3 of that clause reads -

This section shall not affect the right of the owner of the lecturing right in a lecture to bring actions or suits or institute proceedings for infringements of his lecturing right -

The sub-clause should now stop there, in consequence of clause 34 being omitted. 1 am going to ask the Committee to strike out the following words : -

Nor the right of the proprietor of a newspaper or news agency to bring actions or suits or institute proceedings for infringements or the exclusive right con f erred upon him by section 34 of this Act.

We have given a great deal of attention to this Bill here in all its details, and it is no little tribute to our work that the other House, after dealing with the Bill very exhaustively, have made so few amendments. In regard to, the one important amendment, they take an attitude which I took when the Bill was first considered, and when it was recommitted. I think that there were other honorable senators who voted with me, and who also thought -that there were evils which ought to be remedied, but that the way in which it was sought to be done was not the correct one. Outside that amendment, the others are unimportant, verbal, and do not, in spirit, affect our work.

Motion agreed to.

Clause 34 (Protection of Newspapers). -

House of Representatives' Amendment.- Omit clause.

Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -

That the amendment be agree? to.

Suggest corrections