Free AU consumers to copy music for personal use: Proposal

Music business analyst Phil Tripp is pushing for a change to the Copyright Act that would give consumers the legal chance to copy music for their personal use.
Written by Kristyn Maslog-Levis, Contributor on
Music business analyst Phil Tripp is pushing for a change to the Copyright Act that would give consumers the legal chance to copy music for their personal use.

Tripp submitted a proposal last week to music industry associations to support a change to the Act that would "allow consumers who have purchased music (on CDs, from their vinyl collection or in other modes of bought music) to be able to copy their purchased music onto other media (recordable CDs, DVDs and tape) as well as onto the new wave of digital music players (such as iPods and PC or MP3 based units."

"It's time consumers are legally granted the right to make personal copies of music for backup of original CDs, making their own personal CD or digital music player compilations, making tapes for their car or recording songs from older vinyl albums-all of which are presently prohibited under the law," Tripp said. "They can't play CDs on a computer to transfer them to iPod, other digital music players, recordable CDs, DVDs or cassette. It requires a Copyright Act change to finally make this legal," Tripp explains.

Under the proposed changes, "a levy will be implemented on recordable media and a separate one on digital music players to provide a pool of income that would be distributed back to music creators in a fair and equitable manner by an agreed rights society."

Tripp added that the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) was not supportive of the proposal because "They are not going to make money out of it. Secondly, ARIA does not want consumers to be able to copy for their own use. They want customers to buy another cassette or a second CD for their cars. The copy control technology, which two of ARIA's major multinational companies recently introduced, would also be a waste of investment if the changes push through."

The levy system is operating in Canada as well as 25 other G-7 or European Union countries. Under the Canada system, Tripp says "There are also exemptions to the levy for legitimate non-music use plus having the levy at wholesale level to prevent retailers abusing it or overcharging. "

Tripp said that although the changes will be based on studies of other countries' errors and successes, the changes will still be "uniquely Australian."

The levy is redistributed to all registered artists according to their respective sales. Tripp said the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) will most likely be considered to collect the levy based on their "immaculate reputation." He added that they are also looking at whether to adopt the Canada system in terms of equity of the split. In Canada, songwriters get the highest amount from the levy while publishers get the lowest.

Tripp said majority of the 25 organisations he has solicited from are putting the matter before their board panel for consideration. "I feel confident that intelligent associations will see the benefit of this proposal. It has great benefits for consumers, artists and songwriters, and independent record companies and publishers."

"This legislative change would be made in consultation with the music industry at large and would also be structured so as to not unjustly levy media or devices that are used for data backup or copying of a non-musical nature," Tripp said in his letter.

Tripp also emphasised that the changes will only be to legalise the copying of music for the customer's personal consumption and not for or from friends or other people.

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