'Controlled' music copying okay - record industry group

Australia's main record industry group says it is not opposed to a certain amount of copying by consumers, as long as it can be controlled

Australia's peak record industry group has moved to clarify its position in the heated debate over personal music copying proposals, saying that they are not opposed to "controlled" copying of music by consumers.

Australian Record Industry Association chief executive officer, Stephen Peach, told ZDNet UK sister site ZDNet Australia: "We certainly don't agree consumers should have the statutory right to simply make copies, we think that right should rest in the copyright owner. However, the industry is exploring a variety of means where controlled copying by consumers can be implemented".

Peach said ARIA was not worried about consumers making compilations of their own legitimately-obtained music -- contrary to assertions by music industry analyst Phil Tripp.

Tripp has claimed that ARIA does not want customers to be able to make copies for their own use because the music body will lose money on compilation compact discs.

"That proposition is untrue. It's not about maintaining the compilations market. Compilations by record companies will continue to sell. Although customers will come up with their own compilations, one compilation is not a substitute for another," Peach said.

"The copy control technology is still in its early stages and the industry continues to work on the technology," he added.

Peach also confirmed that a position paper leaked to Tripp and posted on the music Web site presented ARIA's official position on the blank media levy proposal.

Peach said the position paper is a summary of the industry's views on the proposed levy, which is currently being pushed to the federal government. He added that ARIA was revamping the ARIA Web site and would re-launch it next week with the actual document.

Peach also said that they are aware that the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) has a different view on the matter and so they just "agree to disagree on the issue."

He said ARIA did not agree with statements made by a parliamentary committee examining the ramifications of the Australia-United States free-trade agreement. The committee found that "the changes being made in respect of the Copyright Act 1968 replace the Australian doctrine of fair dealing for a doctrine that resembles the United States' open-ended defence of fair use, to counter the effects of the extension of copyright protection and to correct the legal anomaly of time-shifting and space-shifting that is currently absent."

Peach said he believes that the American Fair Use does not include private copying of CDs and that "it only deals with time shifting of TV programmes and some fairly narrow definition of exemptions." He added that the American Fair Use has been "broadly state but narrowly interpreted."