IP Issues Paper 42 – Reflecting the Views of Owners
We have argued here that copyright policy is currently set by the minority 1% of copyright owners.
Not only are Copyright owner is unrepresented in the Copyright policy-making process, to the extent that they participate in the process they are rebuffed. For example, over the past 10 years initiatives designed to either make the operation of the copyright law more fair, such as Phillips Fox review or less discriminatory such as the reports of the House of Representatives and of the Senate Select Committees relating to the AUSFTA have not been implemented. Indeed, even apparently obvious reforms backed by substantive, well considered analyses such as that on parallel importation have been left by the wayside. At the same time initiatives designed to discriminate in favour of the vocal 1% have been passed into law time and time again (such as chapter 17 of the AUSFTA, and legislative changes off the back of the Cracking Down on Copycats Review).
If the copyright law is to be reflective of the interests of these 99% of copyright owners then more weight needs to be given to their interests and less to those traditionally having influence in copyright discussions. Because the vast majority of copyright owners have no representation securing their views on copyright policy is difficult. Organisations such as libraries which have traditionally represented “users” only represent a niche interest of those copyright owners – that is, those owners to the extent that they use a library.
As a consequence, policy makers ought to give much more weight to the views of those organisations primarily responsible for the creation and dissemination of content – that is, organisations such as Google, WordPress, Firefox, Sourceforge, Github, Blip.tv, file locker services and so on. These organisations are responsible for assisting or facilitating the creation or dissemination of orders of magnitude more copyright works by the 99% copyright majority than are produced by the 1% copyright minority.
Conflicts note: While I hold accounts with some of these services, but have not been engaged for reward by any companies associated with them. I have previously acted for the Australian Digital Alliance.