The Code of Conduct for Copyright Collecting Societies (the Code) was introduced in 2002 to regulate the behaviour of Australia’s copyright collecting societies and provide protections for both members and licensees. The objectives of the Code are to:
- promote awareness of and access to information about copyright and the role and function of collecting societies in administering copyright on behalf of members
- promote confidence in collecting societies and the effective administration of copyright in Australia
- set out the standards of service that members and licensees can expect from collecting societies, and
- ensure that members and licensees have access to efficient, fair and low-cost procedures for the handling of complaints and the resolution of disputes involving collecting societies.
In the 15 years since the Code was introduced, the landscape for the production and dissemination of copyright material has changed substantially due to advances in technology including the digitisation of content. Technology has also enabled new ways to monitor the use of copyright materials, and for collecting societies to distribute information to their members, licensees and the public.
Collecting societies are already subject to substantial scrutiny. Their compliance with the Code is reviewed annually and triennially, and collecting societies are required to adhere to a range of other laws and guidelines which also provide oversight in respect of their activities. However, this review provides the opportunity to identify systemic issues that may be undermining confidence in the Code and the outcomes achieved under it. Overall the Code has had a positive effect on the conduct and operation of collecting societies.
Collecting societies have indicated the Code has helped to discipline and to improve their conduct towards stakeholders. By requiring collecting societies to provide their members and licensees with access to efficient, fair and low cost procedures for complaints handling and dispute resolution, the Code has introduced incentives for collecting societies to provide avenues for their licensees and members to seek redress for issues and concerns.
There is also a strong track record of compliance with the Code. The independent Code Reviewer, who conducts annual and triennial reviews of compliance with the Code, has to date found all participating collecting societies are generally complying with their obligations, with no major breaches over the past 15 years. Nonetheless, a range of incremental changes—many relatively minor—would respond to issues identified in this review.
Clear objectives, transparency and sound governance are generally considered essential to promote confidence in any system. The review makes a number of recommendations across these three areas, supported by findings based on information provided during the course of the review including from those whose operations are governed by the Code and are part of its governance arrangements. These recommendations seek to improve the Code with the aim of achieving efficient and equitable outcomes.
The Department is seeking submissions from stakeholders on the draft findings and recommendations outlined in this draft report, and any other issues relevant to the Terms of Reference. Submissions should be received by 5pm Wednesday 14 March 2018.