Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018

24 Oct 2018 speech

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018 is about protecting property. It's about protecting a specific type of property, intellectual property, and it is about protecting the intellectual property of a pretty special group of creators—those who tell our stories through film, television and music. These are the people who will particularly benefit from our legislation to stop online piracy, and these are the people who deserve our protection.

We haven't done a great job of protecting our artists and creators in the past. Our protection of intellectual property has not kept pace with technology. For too long, people have been able to illegally access content created by the hardworking people who put their time and effort into films, TV shows or music and risk their money to do so. These people are writers, producers, directors, actors, singers, musicians and all the people who support them, from sound engineers through to costume designers. Our creative industries form part of what is more broadly known as copyright industries. According to the PwC's The economic contribution of Australia ' s copyright industries 2002 -2016 report, Australia's copyright industry employed over one million Australians—that is,
one million and 22,000 people—and constituted 8.6 per cent of the Australian workforce. They also generated economic value of $122.8 billion, the equivalent of 7.4 per cent of gross domestic product, and generated over $6.6 billion in exports, which is equal to 2.7 per cent of our total exports.

Copyright industries are the third largest income generator in the Australian economy. More specifically, we know that our music economy contributes around $4 billion to $6 billion a year to the Australian economy. Boosting our music exports would also generate more income and more tourists might come to visit to see our bands. Already live music generates revenues of $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year alone. In my home state of South Australia, in any one month, around 70 per cent of live music gigs are performed in our pubs and hotels. I was delighted to recently see Jen Cloher, a fantastic Australian musical talent, at one of those fabulous hotels, the Grace Emily. That is an iconic live music venue in Adelaide.

Our pubs and their employees are a very important part of our live music scene. If we are not protecting the content these musicians create, their ability to survive—much less thrive—and to create is lessened. The flowon effect hits our pubs and venues, and it has a cultural impact as well. Most of our musicians are small business people. They have to create, market and sell their content. They might employ other small businesses to help them do this and they might use subcontractors. These are all the people who suffer if a musician is not being paid for their content and if people are stealing that content through illegal sites.

This is also the case for our Australian film and television industry. A 2014-15 Deloitte Access Economics report, Measuring the economic and cultural value of Australia's screen sector, found that:

… the total economic contribution of the Australian screen sector for Broad Australian content is an estimated $2.6 billion in value add and almost 20,160 in FTE jobs.

Broad Australian content refers to any screen content that is made under the creative control of Australians, including feature films, drama, documentaries, news, current affairs, light entertainment, reality shows, lifestyle shows, food shows, travel shows and sports content. Australian expenditure on the production of feature films; TV dramas, which includes miniseries; telemovies; serials and online drama, according to the 2016-17 Screen Australian Drama report, totalled $1.3 billion. Of this, there were 29 foreign projects, totalling $610 million; 41 Australian features, totalling $284 million; 46 Australian TV drama titles, worth $321 million; 13 Australian children's drama titles, worth $48 million; and, measured separately for the first time, $14 million in overall expenditure for Australian online drama.

We need to encourage our creatives to create and to tell our Australian stories, whether it's through music, film, art or literature. That means that we need to ensure they are properly rewarded for their creative efforts. I'm particularly passionate about protecting intellectual property because, before being elected to this place, I was a newspaper columnist. My income was reliant on my creative output. It was also reliant on my employers, The Age and then The Advertiser, being paid for their content. Whether you're a newspaper columnist, like I was; or whether you're a writer, a director, an actor, a musician or any of the people involved in our creative industries, you need strong copyright laws to protect your income and intellectual property.

This has been ever more challenging in a world where technology has outpaced the law. Letting online providers give away content for free, or turning a blind eye while others do, undermines artists', labels' and newspapers' income and their fundamental right to protect their creative efforts and their property. As AC/DC famously sang: 'It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll'. So let us not make it any harder for our artists, our musicians, our filmmakers, and our TV producers to do so, and let's protect their intellectual property when they do get the very 'long way to the top' that it takes to create, establish, and support a career.

This bill ensures that property owners can more quickly and easily enforce their property rights when their rights are infringed. A 2016 Productivity Commission inquiry report into intellectual property arrangements highlighted that:

Intellectual property (IP) arrangements offer opportunities to creators of new and valuable knowledge to secure sufficient returns to motivate their initial endeavour or investment. In this respect, they are akin to the property rights that apply to ownership of physical goods.

Copyright protects the material expression of literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works, as well as books, photographs, sound recordings, films and broadcasts. In addition to being instrumental in rewarding creative and artistic endeavour, many creators value the recognition that the copyright system provides. It does so by granting creators the exclusive right to reproduce or adapt their work in material form as well as to publish, perform, and communicate their work to the public. Exercise of these rights is commonly licensed to intermediaries, such as publishers, record companies, film studios, broadcasters and copyright-collecting societies. We must support those Australians who tell our stories and who, by doing so, show us who we are, remind us who we were, and suggest to us who we one day might be.

This is highlighted by the findings of the 2015 Deloitte report in relation to our film and TV industry, which found that the total audience value of Australia's broad film and TV content viewing in 2014-15 was approximately $17.4 billion in consumer welfare benefit. This is almost seven times the size of the total value-add for broad Australian content. The report also found that Australian screen content was unique, with almost two-thirds, or 64 per cent, of Australian film and TV content considered to be fairly, very or completely different from foreign based content, based on qualities such as storyline, setting, acting, music and camerawork. The role of our artists is not just important locally, it is critical to explaining our culture and our way of life to the world.

Online piracy hurts Australia's creative industries and is particularly damaging to our local film and television production sector. It results in lost remuneration for creators and investors, and provides a disincentive to produce new creative works. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018 strengthens the existing successful website-blocking scheme introduced by the coalition government in 2015 by allowing more pirate websites to be targeted and by making it harder for pirates to circumvent blocking measures. Specifically, this bill will enhance the current website-blocking scheme in the Copyright Act 1968 by allowing a broader range of websites engaging in piracy to be blocked, by allowing injunctions to be made against online search engines, and by clarifying the Federal Court's power to make responsive orders to enable parties to agree to the blocking of future pathways to an existing blocked site. This means copyright owners will have the right tools at their disposal to fight online piracy.

Under the current legislative framework, the Federal Court can issue orders for internet service providers to block access to infringing websites. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill will ensure a broader range of overseas websites and file hosting services widely used for sharing music and movies are within the scope of the scheme, and will provide a means for proxy and mirror pirate sites to be quickly blocked. The amendments will also further empower copyright owners to seek Federal Court orders requiring search engines to demote or remove search results for infringing sites. This bill is an important measure to address online copyright infringement in Australia, which negatively affects our content creators and investors.

As co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Music and as a member of the House Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts, I'm particularly passionate about protecting the Australian music industry and film and TV, so I want to take a few moments to talk about these more specifically. Australian musicians, as I've already noted, are small-business people. They make a significant contribution to our nation. Our Australian music industry is a wonderful success story whose interests are tirelessly supported by bodies like APRA AMCOS, ARIA and the PPCA who, like me, are keen to see this industry grow and artists rightfully compensated for their intellectual property. In particular, I would like to mention the following people whom I have come to recognise as passionate advocates for the music industry: chair of APRA, Jenny Morris OAM; chair of AMCOS, Ian James; and APRA AMCOS chief executive, Dean Ormston. The chair of ARIA, Denis Handlin OA, and CEO, Dan Rosen, are excellent advocates for their sector. I would like to mention Stephen Ferguson, the CEO of the Australian Hotels Association, for his support of the live music industry and all of the pubs that support our musicians. Over the past two years, here at Parliament House we have hosted talented artists like John Paul Young, Kasey Chambers, Ian Moss, All Our Exes Live in Texas, Daryl Braithwaite, Diesel, Daddy Cool, Eskimo Joe, and Montaigne, which has spread the message about the importance getting of our policy settings right in this area.

I was delighted to recently attend an event in support of the Make it Australian campaign, here at Parliament House, where we heard from renowned actors, writers and producers, including Judy Davis and Richard Roxburgh. I hope everyone in this place is an avid supporter of the television series Rake. I was delighted to meet Richard in person and spoke with him about how important it is to support our Australian television and film content. While legitimate content streaming providers like Spotify, Pandora, Stan and Netflix have opened up new ways of enjoying content and enabling Australian artists to be appropriately awarded for their efforts, the internet continues to create major challenges for the Australian arts industries.

Online copyright infringement reduces the livelihoods of Australian creators and investors, and foreign based websites continue to illegally distribute the content of Australian copyright owners. The operators of these sites are often difficult to find and are located in countries that do not have similarly strong laws. The impact of not getting these policy settings right is clear. That's why I'm delighted to speak on introducing this bill today and strengthening our existing successful website-blocking scheme, introduced by the coalition government in 2015, by allowing more piracy websites to be targeted and making it harder for pirates to circumvent blocking measures. As I have noted, online piracy hurts Australia's creative industries and it is particularly damaging to our local film and television production sectors. It results in lost remuneration for creators and investors and provides a disincentive to produce new creative works, whether it's in TV, film, music or other creative arts.

Finally, I want to quickly mention that, on Friday, 16 November is an excellent initiative started by the music industry in Australia and Support Act: Ausmusic T-shirt Day. Support Act is a registered charity founded in 1997 by the music industry for the music industry. It was established in recognition that a career in music brings unique rewards and challenges, sometimes including periods of financial hardship. Really, that's why we're here today: to make sure that people are paid for the work that they do. Ausmusic T-shirt Day celebrates our wonderful Australian music industry acts. I hope that everyone in this place will join me as we support the music industry on Friday, 16 November by making a donation and sharing a picture in your best band T-shirt. Mr Deputy Speaker Kevin Andrews, I'm sure you have many ready. You can use the #AusmusicTShirtDay to demonstrate your support and raise money for artists and music workers who are experiencing financial hardship, ill health, injury or mental health issues.