The directors have been very grumpy indeed for a long time about their copyright status, since they feel unjustly neglected compared to writers and producers. Now they have found a small chink in the fortress wall. Mind you, the mob inside is not exactly eating the fatted calf from gold plates.
Australian directors today welcomed the passing of new legislation that recognises the economic rights of screen directors for the first time.
The Copyright Act, since its inception in 1968, has essentially been silent on directors’ rights. Now, however, with the passing of the Copyright Amendment (Film Directors Rights) Bill directors, along with producers, will be recognised as first owners of copyright of a film for the purposes of the new statutory ‘retransmission’ licensing scheme.
“This legislation is a small but significant step in the right direction”, said Richard Harris, Executive Director of the Australian Screen Directors Association. “It is an important precedent because, even though at the moment it only extends to one particular statutory scheme – the value of which is still to be determined – directors have had their claims to copyright acknowledged for the first time.”
“We are confident that having achieved this legislative recognition for directors, the logic of extending it to other statutory schemes such as educational copying, at the very least, will be hard to deny.”
“For thirty seven years, Australian copyright law has labored under the fantasy that a director does not contribute to the creation of intellectual property. While writers, composers, visual artists and producers are all recognised as either authors or makers, directors have occupied something of a copyright shadow world.
Given the contribution that Australian directors have made to our culture during this time, from Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong to Jane Campion and Baz Luhrmann, this has clearly been an anomaly.
ASDA is pleased to see that the Government has recognised this anomaly and has been prepared to take action to address it, and further that it has received strong cross-party support on the issue.
This legislation is well overdue, but it represents a vote of confidence in Australia’s directors – and by association all Australian creative practitioners – and one hopes will allow them to share in the future success of the products that they help to create.
It has been said that rights represent the currency of the new century, and Australian directors finally have a place at the rights table.