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Copyright: To remunerate or not to remunerate?

Roger Atkinson

In mid-March 2006 a flurry of echalk [1] email list traffic was generated by this posting:

We may need to call in people, cause an uproar. Copyright Agency Limited [2] is attempting to mandate a charge on every time a teacher refers students to a Web-based resource. The matter is now going to a Federal Court... (Horton, 2006)
Several themes emerged immediately in the echalk list responses. Firstly, a somewhat bemused and melancholy or cynical questioning of what the Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL) is up to:
Wondering what their agenda is ....
After all, we put our pages out there for people to refer to free of charge.
Those who want to be paid for their information advertise the fact and make their product available to those who pay, so to whom are these people going to give the money they take from schools - or is this just empire building on the part of this agency? (Mckernan, 2006)

What I don't get is the fact that I have information freely available on the Internet for anyone to use and I don't care if people do - thats why I put it there. I like many other intelligent people know that the Internet is a FREE resource and if I wanted to make money I would write a book...
...Hope that the federal court has enough sense to see through this stupidity. (Brown 2006)

Maybe we can all top-up our salaries with the royalties we can charge parents and students and others in the community for accessing the websites we have created for our schools. Nice little earner - wonder what it'll pay. Forget the current EBA negotiations?????? (Trimble, 2006)

Secondly, a sharper mapping of the differences in values espoused by CAL and by teachers and their supporters:
I put a course on Digital Photography on the web completely free of charge.
...It is a strategy that is part altruistic and part commercial but I certainly do not expect copyright payments if people use the free resources. That would work against the idea of making them a loss-leader to attract people to my income generating resources.
That is what many internet sites are about. It is plain stupid to talk about treating them as copyright resources for the purposes of paying royalties. (Jones, 2006)

I for one am very unhappy about any suggestions to extend the "remunerable under the Copyright Act 1968" mindset ( inappropriately into educational use of the Internet. Among other reasons:
a. commercial publishers are already bloody well remunerated and don't need CAL to deliver extra money...
b. CAL doesn't appear to understand that a copyright owner may elect to forego "remunerable" use of websites... (Atkinson, 2006)

Rest assured that the members of CAG [MCEETYA Copyright Advisory Group] ... are working hard to ensure that we do not pay for any more copying that we have to. ...CAG is encouraging teachers to use websites and other material that has a Free for Education symbol on it or has a copyright statement on the website that advises " that the material on the website can be freely copied for educational purposes" this way the material should not go through the CAL loop. (Brasnett, 2006)

For another sampling of views, consult Simon Hayes' article in The Australian (Hayes, 2006). For exploring further into CAL's values and "what their agenda is", consider the following illustrative quotations from CAL's publications. The first quote is from the press release that sparked the echalk discussion:
... Monitoring needs to take place to identify uses of digital material before it can be decided whether these activities are remunerable under the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).

At the hearing there was one activity in particular under debate known as "tell students to view" - where teachers instruct their students to view and use digital material.... For example, a student may visit a website under their teacher's instruction and as a result they might then print, save or download a copyright-protected article or research paper... The extent to which all or some of this activity may require payment to the copyright owner under the Act needs to be determined by the independent umpire - the Copyright Tribunal... (CAL, 2006a)

The second quotation indicates that CAL is deeply concerned about future erosion of its revenue base, and illustrates the underlying reasons for its approaches to the Copyright Tribunal [3]:
CAL's own experience and that of overseas reproduction rights organisations shows that print copying is reaching a plateau or decreasing. That doesn't mean our members' works are not being copied. It simply means they are being copied in new formats.... CAL is facing up to what needs to be done now to ensure it is proficient in the digital future. (CAL, 2006b)
The third quotation indicates an interesting facet of CAL's self advocacy. We who campaign against evermore remuneration for CAL and its clients are characterised by CAL's CEO as 'copyleftists':
The copyleft movement is anti-copyright because they are opposed to intellectual property. Copyleft disparages copyright as a powerful monopoly, but actually copyright is just a property right....
Copyleft has as much chance of overturning copyright as an intellectual property right as of rebuilding the Berlin Wall....
The real danger posed by copyleft's anti-intellectual property, anti-copyright, is political....
Copyleft adherents promote a weakening of copyright in policy and in law, especially by making the claim that copyright restricts the flow of ideas....
Copyleft promotes a political agenda for wide and vague exceptions to copyright and for limiting the rights of copyright owners. If they were to succeed, creators would face a further lack of security in intellectual property protection.... (Fraser, 2005)
Well, to declare my own stance. I guess I'm a fully paid up, card carrying copyleftist, but not quite as painted by Michael Fraser (Fraser, 2005). As an editor for journals and conference proceedings, I support open access publishing because it's good for the readers, authors and academic societies concerned [4]. As an educational technologist I love the way that the new technologies associated with the Internet can help us cut back on the 'overheads' and 'middlemen' in educational and scholarly publishing [5]. Where CAL's publications and proponents use the term copyright protection, I perceive that what is really meant is remuneration protection. And we copyleftists can name an army of fellow travellers: to drop a few names, House of Commons (2004); UKOU (2006); MIT (2006).

As a possible protection against an unwanted 'remuneration protection', on 14 March 2006 I added the following sentence to the "Copyright in AJET articles" section of AJET's advice for authors, to give a more explicit statement of the expectations of ASCILITE, AJET and the journal's authors:

In accordance with open access principles, it is the intention of AJET and AJET's authors that no charges be levied upon readers or educational institutions by royalty or copyright fee collection agencies for reader access to AJET's online, free to the Internet articles. [6]
Still working on that, one day I'll find a way to improve the sentence, maybe with help from the succinct expression of intent given by Caroline Brasnett's phrase, "...the material should not go through the CAL loop." (Brasnett, 2006).


  1. Echalk email list hosted by EdNA. For details and access to archives, see or
  2. Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL).
  3. Copyright Tribunal.
  4. Comments and references concerning open access publishing appear frequently in AJET Editorials, eg.
  5. For my most recent rant on this topic, please see Atkinson, R. (2005). The copyright times they are a-changin'. HERDSA News, 28(1).
  6. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.


Atkinson, R. (2006). Echalk posting 13 Mar 2006.

Brasnett, C. (2006). Echalk posting 15 Mar 2006.

Brown, D. (2006). Echalk list posting 13 Mar 2006.

CAL (2006a). Update on the CAL and school's Tribunal hearing. Refer also

CAL (2006b). 2004-2005 Annual Report, p.3.

Fraser, M. (2005). Information wants to be free? Presentation to the Copyright Symposium, 17 November 2005.

Hayes, S. (2006). Copyright makes web a turn-off. The Australian, 28 February 2006. [verified 24 Apr 2006],7204,18288580%5E15343%5E%5Enbv%5E15306-15318,00.html

Horton, R. (2006). Echalk list posting 13 Mar 2006.

House of Commons (2004). Scientific Publications: Free for all? House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Tenth Report of Session 2003-04 (HC 3991)

Jones, B. (2006). Echalk list posting 22 Mar 2006.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (2006). OpenCourseWare marks 5 years of educating the world [verified 24 Apr 2006]

Mckernan, L. (2006). Echalk list posting 13 Mar 2006.

UKOU (2006). Open University announces 5.65 million project to make learning material free on the internet. [verified 24 Apr 2006 at, re-verified 6 June 2009 at

Trimble, P. (2006). Echalk list posting 13 Mar 2006.

Author: Roger Atkinson retired from Murdoch University in June 2001. His academic activities are entirely honorary and include publishing AJET, working for TL Forum and other academic conferences, and list managing for echalk. Contact: Website (including an html version of this article):

Please cite as: Atkinson, R. (2006). Copyright: To remunerate or not to remunerate? Login. Journal of the Educational Computing Association of Western Australia, 20(1).

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