Is the whole world to be copyrighted?

From Ken Duncan, Sydney Australia

Reprinted from a series of communications concerning Copyrights in Australia…

At present we are running on a very big issue over here fighting changes that were passed in government that allows National Parks, Federal Parks, Local councils, Cities and other aboriginal owed land to charge usages on an photos taken of natural or man made objects. They are trying to say that they own copyright in all created things including animals, vegetation basically all of creation obviously they must think they are God to try and claim royalties on His creation.

This whole issue may be laughable and you could wonder how anyone could take this seriously but at present it is not only Australia that is going to be influenced it’s a lot of other countries as well. The other countries are seeing this new copyright issue as a big money earner for all involved and see it as a great roll model for their own nations. Delegates from the USA have been over here looking at the concept and are aiming at introducing it in your country. It is obviously more involved and even heavier than I have mentioned. The whole argument or spear head of this insidious action is at a National Park in Central Australia called Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park (more commonly known as Ayers Rock) This Park is been seen as a roll model for the future. At that park the restrictions are so heavy that you can only photograph the beautiful formation from really limited angles. Only about 5% would be able to be photographed and then only from points or paths that they designate. So much for creativity.You have to fill out a huge forms and pay, even to take any photos, and then any shot you want to use you have to submit for their approval, which is like a lucky dip. Every time you want to useany image they want you to resubmit it and pay future royalties on sales to them. If they catch you taking photos without your permit they can confiscate all you equipment and ban you from the Park.

Now they are also trying to make the law retrospective (retroactive) and include previous images taken before the legislation. At present they are taking action against one of our photographers who did a book years ago before these restrictions and they trying to make him get all his books back from the stores and destroy them. If he doesn’t they will take legal action againsthim and force him to recall the books for destruction and thenfine himup to $50,000 and Legal fees on top. One of our photographers has being trying to get in touch with Outdoor Photography in the USA but they haven’t even got back to him which is really slack as if these laws are adapted to the American scene there will be no Outdoor photography without incredible restrictions huge royalties and lots of paperwork. This fight we are in, if we don’t win it, then all the technicality in the world will not help if they lock up our subject matter.

The problem with bureaucrats is they sneak things through while we are busy getting on with the Job of making a living but I can assure you its all on over here and it is on it’s way to America. In fact have you tried taking photos out at Monument Valley in Arizona as there are regulations there banning commercial usages of any images taken without permissions or payment. To my knowledge nobody has been sued yet but the mechanisms are all ready there for them to take legal action against any photographer or individual who uses shots without permission.

It seems some of the people behind driving this agenda in Australia are also the Copyright Lawyers who are interested in pursing intellectual property cases. As if they get people arguing over who owns copyright on what, they are going to be very busy clocking up the hours. We just had a case over here where a Film Director who just happens to like to take stills photos as well, had an Exhibition in one of Sydney’s leading galleries. Two of the photos exhibited were shots from his trip out to central Australia and shot before permissions were needed. The shots have now been deemed unacceptable by new standards and he was threaten with action of facing fines up to $55,000 so the gallery in question removed the photos from the display. A smarmy Bureaucrats went on national Television on having the Gallery back down and withdrawing the offending images and said “It’s Good to see people are taking us seriously and now we will not have to take action against them.” How’s that for creative censorship and Big Bully Tactics.

Years ago we tried to warn people of what was going on in Australia and people were of the opinion that surely common sense would prevail but in the end the laws have been put in place and now we have to battle Ten times as hard to try and get them changed.

If any of our IAPP members can get through to some of the major American magazines I can give them heaps of information.

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