Australian Musicians Back New Piracy Reform Proposals

Leading artists demand changes to Australia’s copyright laws.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Josh Pyke and members of some of the nation’s most popular acts are among an ensemble of Australian artists urging the Abbott government to follow through on a proposed hard stance against online piracy.

Pyke were joined by Tina Arena and members of INXS, Birds of Tokyo and The Potbelleez in submitting responses to the government’s discussion paper against illegal downloading and the future prevention of online copyright infringement.

“It has directly and indirectly impacted on the ability of many musicians to make a living from creating music in Australia,” Pyke wrote in the submission revealed by the AAP. “I cannot begin to explain how frustrating it is to find my work has been made available online without my consent.”

Australia has a significant history with online piracy and Aussie musicians believe they will continue to be left out of pocket unless the government acts to curb the increasing rate of illegal downloaders and implement changes to current copyright laws, namely forcing ISPs to block sites harbouring free content and simplifying the process for copyright holders to take legal action against ISPs not doing enough to stop online piracy.

“As a recording artist of note, I have seen the demise of recording royalties and the devaluation of artist’s intellectual property/copyright over the last 10-15 years,” INXS member Kirk Pengilly wrote.

“The exponential downgrade of revenue from music due to the lack of copyright ‘internet’ law has seen the downsizing of the whole music industry infrastructure – from recording studios and record labels closing down to the reduced funding within the industry to develop talent.

“Copyright laws need to be re-written to cover the ‘free for all’ platform that is the worldwide internet, not just with music but also with film and television (who are just starting to feel the effects of illegal downloading as well).”

Revealed only when media outlets and online rights activists lodged freedom of information requests for its public release, the published submission featured statements from 630 Australians and highlighted just how damaging online piracy is to the music industry and individual artists alike.

“Something that is very simple for them would mean music can continue to be created and thousands upon thousands of jobs remain safe,” Arena said.

“The argument that artists can make their income from touring is a band-aid.

“I am a mother of a young child and touring the world constantly is just not an option.”

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.