Cash for copyright: what unis do not have to pay, yet

Universities and the Copyright Agency Limited are in the Copyright Tribunal over how much the latter should pay the former in licence fees (CMM November 13)

CAL says the unis should pay up the $32.5m set under the expired old agreement, until a new payment is determined. The universities say they should only be up for half that because the amount of material copied has halved since an interim price was set in 2017 and $16m.25m will turn out to be the new payment the Copyright Tribunal sets. Until there is a figure, the universities say $16.25m should be held in a joint account. CAL thinks this is bad idea and would like that money now because authors and publishers will suffer from a delay.

But in the Copyright Tribunal this week Justice Perram went with the universities, saying, “the irremediable hardships identified by CAL are somewhat limited in scope. Although it is crude to put a raw figure on it, I do not think they are worth anything like $16.25 million if it was necessary to cost them. I regard that tool of analysis as being distinctly limited … the irremediable harm to CAL is not the 50% reduction in its income per se but the delayed payment.”

As to delays in paying authors, Justice Perram found what they might, or might not, get in any year, depended on, “a sampling method which generates results which appear, at least to the uninitiated, eccentric,” making payments for some, “something of an occasional bonus.”


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