Jessica Mauboy, Briggs Lead Indigenous Artists' Attack On Proposed Changes To Aus Copyright Laws

15 February 2017 | 1:08 pm | Staff Writer

"This is not just unfair, it is a threat to the artistic mob and means it may be even harder to make a living for the next generation of artists."

Jessica Mauboy, Briggs

Jessica Mauboy, Briggs

Over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians, artists, filmmakers and writers have signed an open letter to the Australian government opposing the Productivity Commission’s Recommendations on copyright in the country. 

The proposed changes to the copyright laws could affect artists' ability to be paid fairly for their content, introduce the US 'Fair Use' doctrine (allows limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders) and remove parallel import restrictions on books. 

Names including Jessica Mauboy, Briggs, Dan Sultan, Leah Flanagan and Julie Gough have opposed the changes. 

"We the undersigned unanimously reject the Productivity Commission's Recommendations on copyright in Australia," the open letter reads.

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"The recommendations to change copyright protections will harm the ability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander film and television makers, writers, artists, musicians and journalists to tell Indigenous stories and make a living.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and creators have a right to receive fair payment for their work. The changes to Australian copyright laws being pushed by the Productivity Commission, large organisations and big technology companies will greatly diminish these protections.

"This is not just unfair, it is a threat to the artistic mob and means it may be even harder to make a living for the next generation of artists. Our kids should be able to grow up inspired by artists like Albert Namatjira and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, listening to music from artists like Dan Sultan and Jessica Mauboy and watching movies like Bran Nue Dae and Samson and Delilah and TV shows like Black Comedy and Basically Black and reading books like Shake a Leg and My Place.

"Ownership, responsibility and control by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of their cultural heritage is paramount. The suggested changes will have a detrimental impact on the stories, imagery, knowledge and heritage which is embodied in our story-telling and artistic works.

"Ownership is also a way of economic empowerment for those artists who earn money from selling, reselling and reproducing their works.

"We call on the Australian Government and parliament to rule out these proposed changes from the Productivity Commission."

See below for all of the names and organisations who have signed the open letter:

•        Vernon Ah Kee (Artist)

•        Jada Alberts (Actor, Writer,Director)

•        Bronwyn Bancroft (Artist, Fashion Designer and Copyright Agency Board Member)

•        Bibi Barba (Artist)

•        William Baron (Performer, Composer)

•        Larissa Behrendt (Filmmaker, Academic)

•        Richard Bell (Artist)

•        Kevin Bennett (Musician)

•        Rachel Bin Salleh (Publisher)

•        Mervyn Bishop (Filmmaker)

•        Wayne Blair (Filmmaker, Director, Actor)

•        Brendon Boney (Singer, Songwriter)

•        Adam Briggs (Musician, Writer and Actor)

•        Troy Cassar-Daley (Musician)

•        Beck Cole (Director and Screenwriter)

•        Brenda Croft (Curator, Academic)

•        Julie Dowling (Artist)

•        Leah Flanagan (Singer,Songwriter)

•        Julie Gough (Artist, Writer and Curator)

•        Aroha Groves (Artist, Designer)

•        Anita Heiss (Author, Presenter and Commentator)

•        Rarriwuy Hicks (Actor)

•        Terri Janke (Copyright Lawyer)

•        Melissa Lucashenko (Writer)

•        Jessica Mauboy (Singer, songwriter, Actress)

•        Rachael Maza (Artistic Director, Actor, Narrator)

•        Philip McLaren (Author,Academic)

•        Sally Morgan (Author, Dramatist)

•        Hunter Page-Lochard (Actor)

•        Bruce Pascoe (Writer, Teacher,Historian)

•        Sandra Phillips (Academic, Chair of the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN) and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Indigenous Story) 

•        Leah Purcell (Actor, Director, Writer)

•        Kim Scott (Novelist, Writer)

•        Shari Sebbens (Actor)

•        Bjorn Stewart (Actor, Writer)

•        Dan Sultan (Singer, Songwriter)

•        Jared Thomas (Author,

•        Playwright, Poet, Academic)

•        Gina Williams (Singer, Songwriter)

•        Tara June Winch (Writer)

•        Jason Wing (Artist)

•        AACHWA (Peak body for Aboriginal Art Centres across Western Australia)

•        Boomalli (Aboriginal Artists Co-operative representing 50 artists)

•        Desart (representing over 40 Central Australian Aboriginal Art Centres)

•        Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (Representing 13 arts centres across far north Queensland)

•        Koori Heritage Trust

•        Moogahlin Performing Arts Incorporated