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Monday, 18 December 1905

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - I am afraid that there is some little misconception of the effect of this provision, and of that which it is intended to protect. .1 think that we are all agreed that every man is entitled to the product of his labour. If a man treats a. subject in an original form, there are two ways in which he may put his work before the people. In the first place, he may publish a book, and in the second he may orally communicate his ideas. If he does so, he can copyright it. It is generally admitted that, in such circumstances, a man should have substantial protection for the result of his labour. Let us take the case of a man who desires to earn a livelihood, not by writing books, but by preparing and delivering lectures on certain subjects. The preparation of a lecture may involve a great deal of research, and a man may suffer great hardships in securing the information necessary for his work. Imagine, for instance, the case of one who goes on a voyage of discovery to the Antarctic.

Mr Conroy - If he did, he would embody in a book the information that he obtained.

Mr GROOM - In that case, his work could be copyrighted. But suppose that he determined to place the information that he had gained before the public, by way of lectures. In that case, surely he should be entitled ,to secure protection for his work. As a matter of fact, we have already affirmed that he shall. It is pointed out by Hinkson that -

Authors of lectures, or the persons to whom they have assigned them, have the sole right of publishing them ; and any person who publishes such lecture without leave is liable to a penalty under the Lecture Act 1835. But to take advantage of this Act it is necessary to give notice of the lecture to two justices living within five miles of the place where the lecture is to be delivered at least two days before its delivery.

That was the English law. The Committee which investigated the whole question in the United Kingdom recommended the very provision that the Government are to-day urging the Committee to adopt. The honorable^ member for Darling has pointed out very truly that the protection which it is proposed to afford a lecturer will be in respect only of the original treatment of the subject with which he deals. The late Reverend Charles Clarke earned his livelihood, and educated the public, by his beautiful lectures on Westminster Abbey, Dickens, Thackeray, and other subjects which any one is free to lecture upon, (but the origin'al treatment of which by any lecturer should be protected.

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