17 July 2013

Survey Plans

The Copyright Tribunal - a body established under s 138 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) - has made a decision on the statutory rate payable by the New South Wales Government for its use of survey plans under that Act.

The rate setting follows litigation between the state government and Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL), the collective rights body.

CAL argued that the use of survey plans by NSW departments and other state bodies was subject to a remunerated statutory licence. NSW has been using survey plans lodged with its Land and Property Information (LPI) agency for purposes that include sale to members of the public and sale via information brokers. The Government argued that it had a free implied licence to use - including sell -the plans.

The litigation culminated in Copyright Agency Limited v State of New South Wales [2008] HCA 35. In that judgment the High Court of Australia found in favour of CAL, with NSW being required to remunerate the rights holders. Payment has been contentious. The Australian Law Reform Commission Discussion Paper proposed abolition of the government statutory licence and introduction of a broad fair use exception.

The decision sets a statutory rate for the amount payable by government: it is reported as 7.94% of the price on all sales with a deemed price for sales by brokers at $14.50 + CPI.