[A2k] G. Moody: Outdated Compulsory Licensing Means Australian Schools Must Pay Millions To Use Free Internet Materials

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Fri Aug 3 04:07:45 PDT 2012

Outdated Compulsory Licensing Means Australian Schools Must Pay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situation in education as a result of outdated copyright approaches: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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Manon Anne Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
manon.ress at keionline.org

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