by Don Groves
Fifty of Australia's leading screenwriters and playwrights have united to call on the federal government to reject proposals to weaken copyright protection.
In an open letter they say the Productivity Commission’s recommendations will harm the ability of Australia’s home-grown writers to tell Australian stories and make a living.
The PC report on Intellectual Property Arrangements proposed Australia adopt the US-style ‘fair use regime,’ which would allow large enterprises to use copyright material for their own purposes either for free or at very significantly reduced rates.
PwC has estimated that the introduction of such a system in Australia would result in the loss of GDP of about $1 billion, with less money flowing to Australian production companies and artists.
The report also recommended an overly broad extension of Safe Harbour protection, permitting the circumvention of Technical Protection Measures in certain instances – including the circumvention of geoblocks, repealing parallel import restrictions on books, making commercial transactions involving IP rights subject to competition law and expediting copyright enforcement in the courts.
Signatories to the letter include David Williamson, Andrew Bovell, Tony Briggs, Jacquelin Perske, Andrew Knight, Leah Purcell, John Collee, Robert Connolly and Vicki Madden.
“Did you love Underbelly, Offspring, Rake, Emerald City, The Drover’s Wife, Red Dog, Away, Animal Kingdom or The Secret River? Or Strictly Ballroom, Neighbours, Happy Feet, Don’s Party, Muriel’s Wedding or Babe?
As writers telling some of Australia’s best-loved stories across stage and screen, we the undersigned unanimously reject the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on copyright in Australia.
The recommendations to relax copyright protections are straight out of the Big Tech playbook and will harm the ability of Australia’s home-grown writers to tell Australian stories and make a living. Australian writers have a right to receive fair payment for their work and to work in a thriving industry with the ability to invest in the Australian story-telling that entertains millions of people each week on stage and on screen.
The changes to Australian copyright laws being pushed by the Productivity Commission, large organisations and big technology companies will threaten our jobs, the jobs of future writers, and the livelihood of our industry. Australian kids should be able to grow up inspired and entertained by our stories and our culture. However, these changes are a threat to the creation of Australian movies, TV shows and plays and mean it may be even harder to make a living for the next generation of writers, playwrights and screenwriters. At a time when jurisdictions around the world are reviewing the impact of major technology companies on cultural production, we call on the Australian government and parliament to protect Australian stories and rule out the Productivity Commission’s proposed changes.”
1. Geoffrey Atherden AM (Mother & Son, Grass Roots)
2. Nicki Bloom (Tender, Little Bird)
3. Andrew Bovell (The Secret River, Lantana)
4. Tony Briggs (The Sapphires)
5. Neil Cole (The Trial of Adolph Eichmann, Alive at Williamstown Pier)
6. John Collee (Happy Feet, Master and Commander)
7. Robert Connolly (Paper Planes)
8. Alison Croggon (The Riders, The Bone Queen)
9. Sarah Dollard (Doctor Who)
10. Peter Duncan (Rake)
11. Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert)
12. Aidan Fennessy (The Way Things Work, National Interest)
13. Louise Fox (Glitch, Broadchurch, Star Wars)
14. Peter Gawler (Underbelly, Wolf Creek)
15. Michael Gow (Away, Once in Royal David’s City)
16. Shaun Grant (Snowtown, Jasper Jones)
17. Declan Greene (The Plague Cycle, Pompeii LA)
18. Tom Holloway (Storm Boy, Beyond the Neck)
19. Laura Jones (Angela’s Ashes, Oscar and Lucinda)
20. Lally Katz (Neighbourhood Watch, Back at the Dojo)
21. Daniel Keene (Terminus, The Nightwatchman)
22. Andrew Knight (Rake, SeaChange, Hacksaw Ridge)
23. Josh Lawson (The Little Death, Comedy Inc)
24. Vicki Madden (The Kettering Incident, Blood Brothers)
25. Peter Mattessi (EastEnders, Neighbours)
26. Tony McNamara (Puberty Blues, The Secret Life of Us)
27. Pete McTighe (Wentworth, Neighbours)
28. Ian Meadows (Between Two Waves, House Husbands)
29. Ross Mueller (Concussion, The Glory)
30. Kate Mulvany (The Seed, Jasper Jones)
31. Tommy Murphy (Holding the Man, Mark Colvin’s Kidney)
32. Joanna Murray-Smith (Switzerland, Love Child)
33. Chris Noonan (Babe, Vietnam)
34. Nick Parsons (Dead Heart, My Place)
35. Craig Pearce (Strictly Ballroom, The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!)
36. Jacquelin Perske (The Secret Life Of Us, Love My Way, Seven Types Of Ambiguity)
37. Lachlan Philpott (Bison, Silent Disco)
38. Leah Purcell (The Drover’s Wife, Redfern Now)
39. Hannie Rayson (Hotel Sorrento, Life After George)
40. Mira Robertson (Head On, The Book of Revelation)
41. Steve Rodgers (Ray’s Tempest, Savage River)
42. Jan Sardi (Shine, The Notebook, Mao’s Last Dancer)
43. Anne-Louise Sarks (Medea, The Nest)
44. Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy)
45. Katherine Thompson (Diving for Pearls, G.P.)
46. Keith Thompson (The Sapphires, Paper Giants)
47. Alana Valentine (Letters to Lindy, Parramatta Girls)
48. Anthony Weigh (Like a Fishbone, Edward II)
49. Matthew Whittet (Girl Asleep, Seventeen)
50. David Williamson AO (Don’s Party, The Removalists)