Relaxing copyright laws 'would hurt economy'

Relaxing copyright laws 'would hurt economy'
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A senior economist has blasted claims relaxing copyright laws would be a boon to the Australian economy, saying they “ignore the substantial negative impacts” on creative industries.

A report from Lateral Economics released in September said the current system is “holding Australia back” and a relaxation of laws would provide a $600m boost.

The Federal Government is currently reviewing the copyright laws.

But Dr George Barker has rubbished those claims in his own report, ‘Estimating the Economic Benefits of Fair Use and Other Copyright Exceptions: A Critique of Recent, Research in Australia, US, Europe and Singapore’.

He said: “The greatest problem with Lateral Economics’ analysis is that it massively underestimates the cost of watering down Australian copyright laws and the damage this would do to the Australian economy.

“It quite simply ignores the substantial negative impacts to creative industries, including the negative impact on business models and incentives to invest, the reduction in employment  and damage to economic growth that would flow from increases in copyright theft and the higher costs of managing the system."

The report shows an expansion of copyright exemptions will have a immediate impact on revenue and sales in the copyright market, and end up reducing investment in those sectors.

Tony Hale (pictured), CEO of The Newspaper Works, said: “With submissions to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into copyright and the digital economy now closed, we urge the ALRC to consider all of the costs and unintended consequences of proposals that relax the Copyright Act.”

“In our view there is a very significant risk that introducing the sorts of changes contemplated by the ALRC Paper would lead to increases in the loss to the creative industries and impose substantial risk on existing investment and employment models.”  

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