Outdated Compulsory Licensing Means Australian Schools Must Pay Millions To Use Free Internet Materials

from the it's-broken,-let's-fix-it dept

Recently we wrote about how copyright rules designed for an analog age were causing problems when transposed without modification to the digital world. Here's another example, this time from Australia, where the Brisbane Times' site reports on an increasingly difficult situation in education as a result of outdated copyright approaches:

Schools spend almost [AU]$56 million [US$59 million] a year under a compulsory licence to copy material such as books and journals without permission from the copyright owner. But an unintended consequence of the licence means schools also pay millions for internet material that the website owners never intended to charge for
The problem is that there are strict rules that schools must follow when teachers duplicate material -- rules that were designed for a world where practically every page copied had to be paid for. However, the inflexibilities of the scheme mean that these are now being applied even when teachers print or save freely-available materials from the Internet, or ask students to do the same for homework.

A "best estimate" for the scale of the problem is around $8 million, and as the Internet becomes an increasingly important resource for schools, things are only going to get worse:

These costs were likely to increase as the national broadband network was rolled out and might ''eventually become prohibitive'', [the National Copyright Unit's director] said.
Fortunately, the Australian Law Reform Commission is holding an inquiry into copyright and the digital economy currently, so there is hope that its recommendations will include a radical overhaul of the compulsory licensing system for schools. Given copyright's three-hundred-year-old machinery, it's unlikely to be the only area that requires such action.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 11:59pm

    Copyright outdated? Surely, you must be joking?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 1:52am

    and if any of the legacy players will lose money, there will be no changes made anyway. look at the twats they have in charge of Australia! even their Attorney General signs papers that no one knows anything about and the people have had no say in.

     

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  •  
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    vegetaman (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 3:53am

    Lovely.

    "Sir, do you have a license for that?"

    "...It's free."

    "That's great. But do you have a license for it?"

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:14am

    "best estimate"

    Yeah. This is the sort of thing Mike pokes holes in all the time. Why run it?

    You understand that this sort of licensing is really better than the options, such as schools just using whatever and then getting sued later.

    It's like a tax on blank media - it's a way to pay for stuff without having to go through the process every time for small amounts.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Danny (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:46am

      Re:

      Education should be free and as a result the publishers should NOT be ripping off the educational institutions.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 11:23am

        Re: Re:

        Saying education should be free is dumb, what you should advocate is the death of unaturally high prices brought on by goverment granted monopoly.

         

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        •  
          icon
          G Thompson (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 11:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually Education in Australia is free and compulsory, in fact it's a constitutional requirement

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2012 @ 11:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Except there are still costs involved in getting educational systems up and running.


            It's still not free if you're forced to pay for it in taxes.

             

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        •  
          identicon
          abc gum, Aug 4th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Saying education should be free is dumb"

          Turn it around ... everyone should have to pay to learn
          Now tell me which statement is more dumb than the other.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2012 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What's dumb is you going from one nonsenacal extreme to the other.

            Education has to be paid for somehow, either from taxes or private excanges of money.

            Now, I could put you through some private school out of the goodness of my heart, but it still would not be free because I'M PAYING FOR IT.

             

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    •  
      identicon
      abc gum, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:51am

      Re:

      It's like pigs at a trough, it's a way to get stuff without having to go through the process of working.

      FTFY

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Goyo, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:53am

      Re:

      this sort of licensing is really better than the options, such as schools just using whatever and then getting sued later.

      No, there are still better options. What about schools just using whatever and then not getting sued? I really like that one.

       

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    •  
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      PaulT (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:54am

      Re:

      "Yeah. This is the sort of thing Mike pokes holes in all the time. Why run it?"

      Because the problem exists regardless of the size of the estimate, and there's no other data currently available? Since the estimate isn't the entire basis of the claims being made, why is it not right to run the story?

      "You understand that this sort of licensing is really better than the options, such as schools just using whatever and then getting sued later."

      If only there were some middle ground between "licence everything" and "sue everybody"...

      "It's like a tax on blank media - it's a way to pay for stuff without having to go through the process every time for small amounts."

      Tax on blank media is also unfair and often targets people who use it for things that are not covered by the tax. It benefits legacy players while penalising new and independent usage. I'd support getting rid of that as well.

      It's only a way to "pay for stuff" that needs paying for. If increasing amounts of usage are for things that aren't covered by that payment, why is it not right to question the need for that payment itself?

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 5:13am

      Re:

      I pay a school tax. Why can't publishers just agree that a school copying some their work is a "school tax". They really aren't losing a thing. If the content is good, perhaps the students will purchase the authors' work in the future.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 5:35am

      Re:

      I hope for Australia's sake that their Law Reform Committee is far more creative than you and realises that there are options besides "pay through the nose" and "get sued, and then pay through the nose".

      The shills argue that copyright extensions are fair but oddly enough never argue that copyright exceptions are fair.

       

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    •  
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      John Fenderson (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 10:47am

      Re:

      It's like a tax on blank media - it's a way to pay for stuff without having to go through the process every time for small amounts.


      I disagree with that characterization of the blank media tax -- that tax is nothing more than a way to overtly steal money from innocent people to benefit major corporations.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 11:27am

      Re:

      So you're ok with big media stealing money from non pirates?


      A blank media levy takes my money to pay for works I don't even want just for backing up my data.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2012 @ 7:42pm

        Re: Re:

        You dare to backup your data?!?
        That may make a copy of a copyrighted file, you pirate scum. It's because of people like you we need MORE blank media taxes.

        (Sarcasm and such don't translate well, so let me be clear about it... this is the sort of crap I expact from the MPAAs and RIAAs of the world, not something I myself believe.)

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:32am

    it's not just Aus that needs to wake up. the whole world needs to realise what the hell is going on here and how the old rules regarding copyright and sharing should be totally removed and rewritten with some sense in them, not just ways of protecting businesses that want to stay in the 19th-20th centuries, giving ways to keep a few people wealthy and countless people information skint!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 9:41am

    Copyright was invented to protect the original gatekeepers; the printers.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2012 @ 12:00am

      Re:

      That's nonsense.

      If copyright was meant to protect printers they wouldn't get flagged in RIAA IP address hunts.

       

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