Australian Copyright Agency Paid Itself More Than It Distributed To Content Creators

from the ah,-bureaucracy dept

One of the key problems we have with any sort of collection agency/performance rights organization/collective licensing scheme is that they introduce an unnecessary bureaucracy into the equation and, as a result, money gets redirected from the actual creators to the bureaucracy itself. It's a giant economic inefficiency that harms content creators. Case in point: Michael Geist points us to the news that the Australian copyright collection group, The Copyright Agency Limited, spent more on its own staff than it gave out directly to content creators. In 2009, it paid its staff $9.4 million, and it disbursed... $9.1 million directly to content creators.

Now, to be fair, the article buries the fact that CAL also gave $76 million to publishers "on the assumption that a proportion of this money will be returned to authors," but it also notes that it has no checks to see if that money is ever distributed. In other words, CAL doesn't actually do anything concerning that $76 million other than pass it on to other bureaucracies (not content creators) -- who might just be keeping it, rather than disbursing it. As the report notes, CAL collected $114 million last year, and can only say, for certain, that $9.1 million got distributed to actual content creators. Now that's efficient! Certainly, some of that $76 million may have reached content creators, but no one knows for sure.

So, again, we're left wondering why such a setup makes sense at all? All that's happening is that money that could go directly from fans/consumers to content creators gets filtered through inefficient bureaucracies that take huge cuts. That harms content creators.

Filed Under: australia, collections, copyright
Companies: copyright agency limited


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  1. icon
    arsebums (profile), 18 Feb 2010 @ 3:54pm

    This is clearly a huge beat up by a junr hack who is poorly paid. If he looked in detail at CAL salaries he would find they are well below levels paid for the same skill set elsewhere.

    At around 15% of expenses to revenue CAL seems pretty efficient to moi considering what charities operate at...and a lot of their labour cost are free. As for the big dig at publishers they would be entitled to some of the revenues paid to them as book sales have been foregone as a result of the copying, but yes a proportion of the monies paid to them may be payable to the creators and may well be passed on.

    This hack has had his momentary glimpse of the sun, he clearly does not understand the publishing industry despite working in it. He would only have to check his pay slip and compare with the revenue of his publisher employer to get a glimpse of real life.

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