But of Course

It turns out that the Australian bureaucracy created to collect fees for content creators has been diverting these fees to lobby against changes in their copyright laws:

Even though stories of copyright collecting societies failing to distribute the monies that they collect to artists abound — we wrote about one just a few weeks ago — this doesn’t seem to discourage others from continuing to bend the rules somewhat. Here, for example, is a story from Australia, where there is a major battle to switch to a US-style fair use approach to copyright. Naturally, the affected industries there hate the idea of allowing the public a little more leeway in the use of copyright materials. So Australia’s copyright collection agency decided to build up a war-chest to lobby against such changes. The Sydney Morning Herald explains where the money for that fighting fund is coming from:

Australia’s government-mandated copyright collection agency has been diverting payments intended for journalists and authors to a [$11 million] “future fund” to fight changes to the law.

Specifically, the monies come from payments made by educational establishments in order to use orphan works. That’s a major change of the agency’s policy that was not disclosed to the Australian government’s Productivity Commission that oversees this area:

[The Copyright Agency] has been criticised in a Productivity Commission review that is before the government over the transparency of its accounts and its practice of retaining, rather than returning, millions of dollars collected from schools and universities on behalf of the owners of “orphan works” who can’t be traced.

This reinforces a point that I have made on numerous occasions: IP protections are government subsidies through the enforcement of monopoly rents, and are justified only to the degree that they encourage the creation of protected works.

Any amount in excess of this results in parasitic rent seeking, because this is the most effective way to make EVEN MORE money.

Copyright and patent have gone from a way to “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” to a mechanism that corrupts the political process and hinders progress.

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