Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Educational publishers’ arguments against fair use ‘misinformed and misleading’: Browne

Macmillan managing director Greg Browne has said the idea that introducing a ‘fair use’ exception into the Copyright Act is a terminal threat to Australian culture and education is ‘rubbish’, in an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review.

Browne said the argument is ‘not only misinformed and misleading, it makes a once dynamic and resourceful industry look like a reactionary, entitled old bore who has run out of ideas and doesn’t know which way to turn’.

‘The idea that schools and universities are ripping us off by illegal copying and that they would go rogue if the law was changed is a myth and is, frankly, insulting,’ said Browne. ‘All the teachers and lecturers I know want to do the right thing. They in fact want to buy great, innovative, engaging and economical teaching and learning resources. But they can’t find them. Why don’t we give that a try?’

Browne said the Australian educational publishing industry ‘has a lot to be proud of’. ‘We have invested heavily, worked cleverly with local authors and illustrators, battled it out in an open market with large and small competitors, and by and large generated a reasonable return for our shareholders,’ said Browne.

Browne said industry revenues over the past 10 year have declined, as have ‘robust margins, good salaries and attractive career opportunities’, while the ‘ephemeral’ national curriculum that ‘could have provided us with a more rewarding economy of scale just hasn’t materialised’.  

‘We have a fair bit to be worried about,’ said Browne. ‘But certainly most worrying is our inability to give this new generation of teachers and students the products they need to do better at school and to achieve the results they need to get a place in higher education or in employment.’

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, the Productivity Commission reiterated its recommendation to adopt a US-style ‘fair use’ exception in the Copyright Act in its final report into Intellectual Property Arrangements on late last year.


Category: Local news