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Monday, 18 December 1905

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - I ask the honorable and learned member not to press the amendment. At the present time the United States is outside the Berne Convention, and will not make reciprocal arrangements on the subject of copyright with other countries under that agreement. Consequently, registration there does not give copyright throughout the various countries within the Berne Convention. If an American publisher wishes to obtain copyright in the United Kingdom, he must register under the English Act, which it would not be wise for us at this stage to attempt to override, because, under it, registration in any one part of the Empire gives a copyright throughout the whole Empire. This is a Bill purely to regulate the administration of the copyright law within our own boundaries, and to take advantage of the benefits of the Imperial Act, and the international agreement, and, while it is desirable that the copyright law. should be uniform throughout the civilized world, as the United States people have declined to enter the Berne Convention, we cannot force them in this matter. No American author, however, will be able to obtain copyright in Australia under our Bill unless he complies with our conditions, which are substantially the same as those of the United States.

Mr Crouch - He is not bound to comply with our conditions, if he registers under the English Act.

Mr GROOM - Any one who is entitled to copyright under the English Act has a copyright throughout Australia, and I think it undesirable thatwe should refuse to recognise the legislation of the Imperial Parliament in this matter, because under it any one has copyright throughout the Empire.

Mr Crouch - But an Australian who wishes to register in America is at a greater disadvantage than an American who wishes to obtain copyright in Australia.

Mr GROOM - An American wishing to obtain copyright in Australia must either comply with the provisions of this measure, which are the same as those of the American law, or comply with those of the English Act. It is quite possible that some aspects of the law of copyright may come up for consideration again next session, and, in the meantime, this matter could be looked into. Senator Keating, who deserves the thanks of the community for the tremendous efforts that he has taken to perfect this measure, recommends the Bill, and I ask the honorable and learned member not to press the amendment, but to leave the subject over for future consideration, and possible negotiation.

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