Summary

8.1 Statutory licences allow for certain uses of copyright material, without the permission of the rights holder, subject to the payment of reasonable remuneration. They are a type of compulsory licence. Where the licence applies, rights holders cannot choose not to license their material.

8.2 The statutory licences in pts VA, VB and VII div 2 of the Copyright Act were criticised by educational institutions and governments during this Inquiry. There were strong calls for the licences to be repealed. However, the ALRC has concluded that there is, at least for now, a continued role for these statutory licences.

8.3 Retaining the statutory licences will ensure educational institutions, institutions assisting people with disability, and governments are not inhibited from performing their important functions. This may also benefit rights holders, who strongly opposed their repeal, despite the fact that in theory the statutory licences detract from their rights.

8.4 Further, many of the criticisms of the statutory licences seem better directed at the scope of unremunerated exceptions. The enactment of fair use and new exceptions for government use should address many of the criticisms of the statutory licences. If new exceptions such as these are not enacted, then the case for repealing the statutory licences becomes considerably stronger.

8.5 The Copyright Act should be clarified to ensure the existence of the statutory licences does not imply that educational institutions, institutions assisting people with disability and governments cannot rely on unremunerated exceptions, including fair use.

8.6 The ALRC also recommends other reforms of the statutory licences. The licences were not intended to be compulsory for licensees wishing to use copyright material. This should be clarified in the Copyright Act. The ALRC also concludes that the statutory licences should be made less prescriptive.[1]

[1] This chapter concerns the statutory licences for educational and other institutions and the licences for government. The statutory licences for retransmission of broadcasts and for broadcasting of published sound recordings in s 109 is discussed in Chs 18 and 19 respectively.