Keeping Schools Off The Internet

March 3rd, 2006

Here’s a really, really dumb situation.

The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) charges Australian schools a per-student fee (totalling around AUD$31 million per year Australia-wide) to allow them to reproduce copyrighted works. From what I understand, the fees collected are (partly) distributed to copyright holders to compensate them for the copying. The idea is to allow schools to copy parts of books, magazines, newspapers, audio, video, etc without having to buy a retail copy of the work for every student, which would obviously be uneconomical. Good idea.

Now, CAL wants to add a fee to schools for their use of the internet.

How the hell does that work? Why are the government and the courts even listening to them on this issue?

Works posted on the web are generally covered by copyright, but they’re made freely accessible to the public. If a student visits a publicly-available site and reads some articles, they’re not breaching anybody’s copyright. They’re doing what the copyright holder intended them to do.

How can CAL have any basis to collect a fee in this situation? How could they actually distribute the fees collected to the copyright holders, who may be anywhere in the world?

What a stupid way to hold back our kids’ education!

For more info, see this article in The Australian: Copyright makes web a turn-off.

Entry Filed under: Australia


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