The NSW government is being taken to court for allegedly failing to pay millions of dollars in copyright fees over the past five years.
A suit was filed before the Copyright Tribunal on Friday by the Copyright Agency, alleging that NSW government employees have copied up to 200 million pages of copyright material without paying the appropriate level of compensation.
The Copyright Agency is an industry body that oversees copyright and licensing matters for authors, publishers and other content creators.
Members register with the agency, which then collects fees on their behalf.
The case put forward by the Agency will argue that the NSW government owes around $7.5 million in copyright fees.
“For five years we have attempted to get the NSW Government to recognise the value in tens of millions of pages of author, publisher, researcher, photographer, cartoonist and journalist content,” said Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling.
“Over 200,000 NSW Government employees use and distribute copyright material – such as newspaper, magazine and journal articles, survey plans, photos and illustrations – in the course of their work every day.
“It is an accepted standard that governments pay a market rate to cover the use and sharing of copyright material and the use of such material is covered by the Copyright Agency licence.”
The fees paid by other states and the federal government amount to $7.30 per government employee.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW would make $1.5 million a year in copyright payments by using the same fee structure.
NSW has the largest public sector in Australia with around 200,000 employees.
In 2015, the NSW government made back-payments of $500,000 a year for the previous three years of copyright fees, but is alleged to have since stopped paying any fees.
“There is a simple win-win solution available, which is for NSW to come to a commercial agreement in line with the Commonwealth and all other state and territory governments,” Suckling said.
“The unnecessary and undesirable alternative is for the Copyright Agency to represent its members rights in an expensive legal action which will waste a huge amount of public resources.”
Business Insider has contacted the NSW Department of Justice for comment.
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