NSW government settles eight-year dispute over payment for intellectual property

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday February 12, 2020

Adobe Stock

The New South Wales government and the body representing the copyright interests of Australian creatives have settled a dispute over payment regarding the use of licensed material by state public servants.

The dispute between the state and the Copyright Agency goes back almost eight years.

A Department of Communities and Justice spokesperson told The Mandarin the matter was settled in December, and the parties have discontinued the proceedings in the Copyright Tribunal of Australia.

“The dispute related to the amount of remuneration to be paid by the State to copyright owners whose works were copied for internal government purposes,” they said.

“The resolution of the dispute represents a fair outcome for copyright owners and taxpayers, and avoids a lengthy court process.”

NSW would pay an agreed remuneration for the period from July 1 2012 to June 30 2023.

Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling noted the Copyright Act allows governments to utilise copyright material through agreements with organisations such as the Copyright Agency.

He said he was pleased that both parties were “able to agree a sensible and reasonable outcome”.

The Copyright Agency would distribute the settlement amount for the outstanding liability to members in the first part of this calendar year. The amount would be additional to the interim payments made previously by NSW and distributed by he Copyright Agency.

The body decided to take the state government to the Copyright Tribunal in 2017, according to Suckling, who argued NSW was the only government in Australia that had refused to pay a fair rate for using copyright material.

“For five years we have attempted to get the NSW government to recognise the value in tens of millions of pages of author, publisher, researcher, photographer, cartoonist and journalist content,” he said at the time.

“In this time, thousands of NSW executives and public servants have copied up to 200 million pages of copyright material without the appropriate approval or recompense for Australian creators.

“We are proud that this material provides an important input into serving the people of NSW – but we believe that our members should receive fair payment for use of this work.

“It is an accepted standard that governments pay a market rate to cover the use and sharing of copyright material and the use of such material is covered by the Copyright Agency licence.”

He noted the last dispute between the NSW government and the Copyright Agency took 10 years to conclude, and cost millions of dollars.

About the author
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The essential resource for effective
public sector professionals