by Dan Rosen
For well over a decade we have been bombarded with ideas and policy prescriptions to become "the next Silicon Valley". This has spawned an industry in Silicon-appellations, birthing Silicon Alley, Silicon Forest, Silicon Roundabout, Silicon Wadi, and in the Aussie context Silicon Beach.
In recent weeks Sydney artist Flume won the Grammy for the Best Dance album in the world, and two Aussie films were nominated for the Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
However, Australian creators and creative businesses live in a more fragile ecosystem than their US counterparts, given our significantly smaller domestic market.
In this context, the conclusions reached by the Productivity Commission (PC) Report in its recent report into intellectual property are so troubling.
In recommending reforms such as broad safe harbours and fair use that favour big tech platforms over local creators, it advocates for a future that undermines Australia’s creative capacity.
The PC sees a world in which Australia is always a net importer of intellectual property (IP) and therefore supports an IP regime that would pull the rug out from our ability to produce the content that will entertain the next generation of Australians.
This underestimates both the existing level of our copyright industries – which according to PwC employ more than 1 million Australians and make up more than 7 per cent of GDP – and the ability of Australia to transform itself to a net IP exporter with targeted policies.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg recently said that the world’s largest social network was moving to become a video destination on the understanding that the majority of that video content will be “professionally created”.
Translation, the content that will entertain us will not be cat videos created by bedroom users. Let’s make sure Australian creative talent and companies can be producing the compelling content that will fill our smartphones and connected TVs.
So while we absolutely need to teach our children to code, we also need to prioritise creative writing and music education.
And as we invest in an NBN to provide the infrastructure of the connected world, we need to equally invest in our ability to fill those pipes with quality Australian voices and stories.
Our childhood heroes may have changed from Page and Plant of Led Zeppelin in the ’70s to Page and Brin of Google in the Noughties. But perhaps the children of the coming decade can idolise a hybrid of the two … Web Zeppelin anybody?
Dan Rosen is chief executive of the Australian Recording Industry Association
Article published originally in The Australian Financial Review