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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2010 @ 10:20am

    While we are on the subject of copyright, I wanted to address another argument that I think I remember seeing once.

    Someone argued something to the extent, "there is plenty of free music on the Internet, if you don't like copyright music then get free music. Allow artists of free music/works to give away their works for free and allow those who want their material copyright to copyright their material. That way we get the best of both worlds."

    I have addressed this before, but I want to add an additional problem to this theory.

    It adds burden to the rest of society. At the very LEAST it requires everyone to ensure that works are not copyright before re - distributing them in any way. This adds cost to anyone who wants redistribute works which adds cost to society as a whole and is economically inefficient, even for those who do not intend to infringe on copyright.

    Secondly, infringement lawsuits add cost to our court system.

    Thirdly (and I said this before), for those who insist that their work should be copyright, I prefer them not have that privilege and instead of creating copyright work they can do something else, hence finding another way to serve the market and contributing to economic efficiency.

    All three of these combined are enough to convince me to eliminate copyright.

    Another thing is that it may put an expensive bureaucracy, that taxpayers pay for, in place to enforce copyright laws and perhaps even invade our privacy and restrict our behavior just to enforce copyright. We may not be allowed to create efficient peer to peer networks, or cheap/free and efficient music, file, and information distribution networks (like Napster was before the RIAA destroyed it with their selfishness), because such networks maybe used to infringe. Or we may have our communications monitored and our privacy invaded just to enforce copyright. Companies, like Google/Youtube, may restrict user content or block user content on copyright suspicion just to avoid lawsuits (or they may not offer certain services in fear that others will use such services to provide infringing material and Google will be blamed) and this may make the process of distributing non copyright material more expensive and burdensome and less efficient. This hinders innovation in fear that such innovation may get someone in trouble for providing a useful platform that can incidentally be used to infringe, even though there is so much utility from such platforms without copyright laws.

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