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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 1990 ..

Copyright Law

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for stunts, Mr Stuntphries - I am sorry; the Attorney-General. I received from a constituent a letter concerning copyright law, which I passed on to the Attorney-General. The letter is from the Australasian Performing Right Association, generally known as APRA, and it states:

Please be aware ......

If you use radio, TV, tapes, CDs, film or a live band in your business you must hold a current APRA licence. Without a licence you are in breach of the Commonwealth Copyright Act of 1968.

The letter goes on to explain how a licence can be granted. Is this the true position of the law in the ACT, and what should constituents who receive this type of letter do?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Osborne for the question and for his notice of the question. It is, I think, a quite startling revelation for most people to realise that, when they switch on their radio or watch television, they can quite literally be using the copyright of somebody else, particularly where the benefit of that radio or television is reaching people other than those who own that television or radio. People are quite surprised to discover that, in doing so, they are using the copyright of another person and, in fact, under the law of Australia, can be liable to pay for the privilege of having used that copyright.

The letter that Mr Osborne's constituent received, which he has kindly given me a copy of, does indicate quite clearly that the Australasian Performing Right Association is following through, particularly on small businesses, and larger businesses as well, to insist that if they use such things as radios, TVs, CDs, films or even live bands during the conduct of their business they are liable for the use of that copyright of those artists' work and have to pay for it.

This, Mr Speaker, is not a decision by the ACT Government; it is a provision of the copyright law imposed by the Commonwealth of Australia. Those laws are quite extensive. Already, Australian governments, including the ACT Government, have had to form an agreement with the Australasian Performing Right Association to provide for the payment of, effectively, a copyright fee for the use of things like televisions in our hospitals, radios in public buildings, the muzak in our lifts, and so on. All those things have to be paid for, and under a formula the ACT is paying for them.

Unfortunately, even small businesses are liable for the same charges and fees, and, under the Copyright Act 1968, can be asked to pay for those services. The arrangements are such that the Australasian Performing Right Association, on behalf of copyright holders, is entitled to seek the payment of copyright fees, and then it distributes those fees to its members by way of a sort of subscription or dividend to them. It has already successfully taken the Commonwealth Bank and a number of gymnasia to court for breaches of those

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