College heads resolve dispute

March 17, 2000


The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee last week settled a long-running dispute with the Copyright Agency Limited over payments worth more than A$30 million (Pounds 12 million) to authors and publishers.

An agreement between 29 of the nation's 38 universities and the CAL has set copyright licence payments for the next three years at A$25 a year for each equivalent full-time student.

Non-signatory universities will keep full records of all photocopying because some felt this would be cheaper than the flat charge agreed by the 29, while others wanted detailed records kept to allow the apportioning of costs to individual departments and faculties.

CAL is a copyright collecting society representing authors, visual artists, photographers, journalists and publishers. It has an annual turnover of A$25 million in copyright licence fees for distribution to its members.

Chairman Michael Webster said CAL's members would benefit significantly from the agreement with the universities. He said it would allow the collecting society to better protect revenues from the licensing fees it distributes each year.

"We are very pleased to have signed the settlement and hope the universities still keeping full records of their copying will soon join their colleagues and return to sampling under a set agreement that works for all parties," said Mr Webster.

With the new statistical sampling system, six universities will be asked to keep records of their copying for a 12-week period each year.

Mr Webster said this represented a considerable reduction of the administrative burden on the 29 universities.

Universities had been paying 3.5 cents per page for photocopying copyright works, which was to rise to 4 cents per page this year. Australia's copyright act allows photocopying - provided the fee is paid - and then whoever wants to read the photocopied material can do so at no extra charge.

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