Revoke Copyright for Poorly Paid Authors?


In a submission on the AUSFTA the Australian Society of Authors made the assertion that it was in support of the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years from the death of the author. The submission refers to arguments made by the Copyright Agency Limited in support of the extension then chooses to embellish this argument in a remarkable way. The Society supports the extension by bemoaning the poor pay received by authors –

“Above all the ASA supports the proper remuneration of authors. Our members are among the most poorly paid in Australia and we strongly support their basic right to payment for the work they produce – in all media…. We welcome any legislation that caters to the rights of our members to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”

This was not a one-off argument. In 2006 the ASA sent a representative to the Unlocking-IP conference held at the University of NSW. His talk emphasised the same thing – how copyright needed to be boosted because authors were so poorly paid.

I say this argument is remarkable because it is a complete non sequitur. If the practical effect of 200 years of copyright protection for my industry body was that its members were “the most poorly paid in Australia” I wouldn’t be asking for the regime to be extended! I’d be calling for it to be abandoned – and for someone’s scalp for good measure.

From what I understand authors bodies around the world make similar arguments. Why?

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