Current arrangements

15.4 The parliamentary, judicial and executive arms of government all use copyright material. A significant amount is used under direct licence. There are specific exceptions available for parliamentary libraries[1] and for copying for judicial proceedings.[2] Other copying is done under the statutory licence in pt VII div 2 of the Copyright Act.[3]

15.5 Under the statutory licence, government use of copyright material does not infringe copyright if the acts are done ‘for the services of the Commonwealth or State’.[4] When a government uses copyright material, it must inform the owner of the copyright and agree on terms for the use.[5] However, if a collecting society has been declared in relation to a government copy, the government must pay the collecting society equitable remuneration for the copy.[6]

15.6 Two collecting societies have been declared, Copyright Agency for text, artworks and music (other than material included in sound recordings or films) and Screenrights for the copying of audiovisual material, including sound recordings, film, television and radio broadcasts. The Copyright Act requires equitable remuneration to be worked out by using a sampling system to estimate the number of copies made.[7] The method of working out equitable remuneration may provide for different treatment of different kinds of government copies.[8] However, no survey has been conducted since 2003 as governments and collecting societies have been unable to agree on a method for a survey. Since then, governments have paid Copyright Agency and Screenrights on a per employee basis.

15.7 It is unclear whether the fair dealing exceptions in pt III div 3 of the Copyright Act are available to governments in Australia. It is also unclear whether a government can rely on an implied licence to use copyright material.[9]