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Proposed Australian Music Copyright Change To Benefit Consumers & Creators
Blank Recordable Media & Digital Music Player Levy Trade-off for Consumer Copies
By Mi2N
(more articles from this author)
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On June 9, AustralAsian Music Industry Directory publisher Phil Tripp—often referred to as a music business analyst by media—independently submitted a proposal to a broad range of music industry associations to support a change to the Copyright Act. This would allow consumers to legally copy their purchased music for personal use only and also compensate recording artists & songwriters through implementation of a blank media and digital music player levy system.

The proposal asks support at Board level for this scheme to be submitted to the Federal Government by organizations including Association of Independent Record Labels (AIR), Music Managers Forum (MMF), Australian Music Retailers Association (AMRA), Musicians Union, Music Council of Australia (MCA), Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP), Community Broadcasters Association (CBAA), songwriter associations, state-based music peak bodies & genre based organisations (folk, country, jazz, Christian, etc.) Replies will be passed on to relevant Ministers & government departments

“It’s time consumers are legally granted the right to make personal copies of music for backup of original CDs, making their own personal CD or digital music player compilations, making tapes for their car or recording songs from older vinyl albums—all of which are presently prohibited under the law.” Tripp explains. “They can’t play CDs on a computer to transfer them to iPod, other digital music players, recordable CDs, DVDs or cassette. It requires a Copyright Act change to finally make this legal.”

The tradeoff is to reimburse recording artists & songwriters for the right to copy by a minor levy on blank recording media as well as on digital players—which operates most successfully in Canada as well as 25 other G-7 or European Union countries. This way of compensating music creators and their investors--typically record labels & publishers—has already been proposed in 2003 by the songwriters’ Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and Screenrights which are key collection societies. It is no secret that the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA)—the trade association primarily representing multinational record labels—is vehemently opposed to this progressive, innovative program.

Tripp continues, “This scheme would not permit unlawful copying of music nor music theft as ARIA contends. It would actually benefit consumers who buy music—the ones who support the music industry by paying for CDs—and benefit artists and songwriters who are at the bottom of the music food chain. It’s ludicrous that it is illegal to archive songs or albums on vinyl, copy cassettes or even consolidate songs into an iPod under present law, even more criminal that the major record companies would want to deny this basic right of ‘Fair Use’ which is so common in other civilized countries.”

“As an example, the Canadian model in law since 1998 (info at, collected over A$30 million in 2002 and estimated A$40 million in 2003—66% to songwriters, 19% to performers and 15% to music makers. There are also exemptions to the levy for legitimate non-music use plus having the levy at wholesale level to prevent retailers abusing it or overcharging. It works as a win/win plan.”

Tripp, who has conducted meetings in Canberra with Parliamentarians and senior bureaucrats, intends to take the responses to government and lobby further for the changes to be implemented. “I’m serving as an unpaid lobbyist for this cause for the two ends of the music industry who get screwed—consumers and creators.” Tripp concludes. “While ARIA contracts a $20,000 a month lobbyist to hustle its party line to politicians, I hope the entire industry can make its voice heard independently & progressively.”

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