Statutory licences in the digital environment

231. Some of the specific statutory licensing schemes in the Copyright Act have been discussed above. The ALRC is also interested in the value and operation of statutory licences in the digital environment more broadly. New digital technology and the internet may offer opportunities to improve the operation of these schemes, making them more efficient, and enabling them to facilitate the wide use of copyright material and the fair remuneration of creators and other rights holders.

232. For example, the internet may facilitate micro-licensing—bridging the gap between rights holders and users and lowering the transaction costs that have made direct contracting prohibitively expensive in the past. Collecting societies may have an important role in facilitating micro-licensing, for example by acting as a rights clearinghouse, or by publishing information about the works for which they collect fees.

233. The ALRC seeks submissions on whether the statutory licensing schemes in the Copyright Act are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment, and on how these schemes might be improved. For example, are new statutory licensing schemes called for, or should some of the existing ones be consolidated?

Question 40. What opportunities does the digital economy present for improving the operation of statutory licensing systems and access to content?

Question 41. How can the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be amended to make the statutory licensing schemes operate more effectively in the digital environment—to better facilitate access to copyright material and to give rights holders fair remuneration?

Question 42. Should the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be amended to provide for any new statutory licensing schemes, and if so, how?

Question 43. Should any of the statutory licensing schemes be simplified or consolidated, perhaps in light of media convergence, and if so, how? Are any of the statutory licensing schemes no longer necessary because, for example, new technology enables rights holders to contract directly with users?

Question 44. Should any uses of copyright material now covered by a statutory licence instead be covered by a free-use exception?