Correspondence and other material sent to government

15.80 Correspondence and other material sent to governments may be scanned into an electronic file for efficient storage and to provide access to government officers at distant locations. While authors of letters retain copyright, both governments and the relevant collecting society agreed that government use of correspondence should not require remuneration.[111]

15.81 The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (UK) includes an exception for use of material sent to government ‘with the licence of the copyright owner … for the purpose for which the work was communicated … or any related purpose which could reasonably have been anticipated by the copyright owner’.[112] There is an equivalent provision in s 62 of the Copyright Act 1994 (NZ). This approach recognises that when citizens send material to governments, permission can be implied for use of the material as necessary to fulfil the objective for which the material was sent. The Australian Copyright Act should contain a similar provision.

15.82 The UK and NZ exceptions allow the Crown to copy the work and issue copies of the work to the public, as long as the work has not been previously published.[113] This is intended to avoid damaging the market for published work that is sent to government. However, in the digital age, copying of material sent to government is essential for internal purposes such as scanning and emailing. The Australian exception should allow previously published material to be copied for internal purposes, but should not allow it to be made publicly available.

Recommendation 15–5 The Copyright Act should provide for a new exception for use of correspondence and other material sent to government. This exception should not extend to uses that make previously published material publicly available.