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Copyright Collecting Societies

Copyright Collecting Societies

The Australian Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue, Senator Helen Coonan, announced today that the tax law would be amended, effective from 1 July 2002, to ensure that copyright collecting societies are not taxed on income they collect on behalf of copyright owners and held pending allocation to them.

Copyright collecting societies are organisations that administer copyrights on behalf of copyright owners, including authors and composers. Income received in relation to copyrights is held by the societies pending identification and allocation to the appropriate copyright owner.

Senator Coonan said the societies facilitated the efficient management and enforcement of copyright owners' rights and maximised the economic value of the rights under copyright law.

"This amendment will benefit copyright collecting societies and copyright owners who receive copyright related income from collecting societies," Senator Coonan said.

"Tax on the copyright income will be levied in the hands of the copyright owner, at the copyright owner's marginal tax rate, when the copyright owner is made presently entitled to the copyright income.

"This treatment reflects the principle that collecting societies are basically conduits for copyright income payable to the copyright owners."

Under the current law, collecting societies that hold copyright income in trust, pending identification of the copyright owner, would be subject to tax at the top marginal rate if they did not distribute the income within two months after the end of the financial year.

"This amendment acknowledges the unusual practical difficulties and delays that may occur when copyright collecting societies match copyright income to its owner" Senator Coonan said.

"In accordance with the Government's policy of public consultation on tax reform, there will be further consultations with the collecting societies on implementation issues associated with this measure."

List of copyright collecting societies

Copyright collecting societies are organisations that administer copyrights on behalf of a class of copyright owners, and collect and distribute income in relation to such rights.

Voluntary collecting societies have been established over time, as private organisations, to assist certain groups of rights-owners to manage their rights collectively. Voluntary collecting societies include:

„h Australian Writers Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS), which represents Australian screen writers in receiving and distributing to them remuneration collected in some European countries for re-transmission of broadcasts of their films;
„h Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS), an industry association representing the interests of film and television directors, documentary film makers, animators and independent producers throughout Australia;
„h Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), which manages licence for reproduction and performance of Christian music in or by churches for worship;
„h Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA), which manages licensed broadcasting and playing in public of sound recordings, music videos and other films that incorporate sound recordings;
„h Visual Arts Copyright Collecting Agency (VISCOPY), which licenses reproduction of artistic works;
„h Australasian Performing Right Association Limited (APRA), which licenses the public performance and broadcasting of musical works in Australia and New Zealand; and
„h Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS), which represents the interests of music publishers and their writers in Australia and New Zealand.
The Copyright Act 1968 establishes a number of statutory licence schemes, which provide for compulsory licensing of copyright material for a variety of public purposes. The Attorney-General may declare particular bodies as collecting societies for the purposes of administering statutory licences. The following organisations are declared collecting societies:

„h Audio-Visual Copyright Society (AVCS), trading as 'Screenrights', which administers the statutory licences in the Copyright Act for the off-air copying and communication of television broadcasts by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by government for the purposes of government. It also administers the statutory licence for institutions assisting those with disabilities, and the statutory licence for retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts by pay-TV services; and
„h Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), which administers the statutory licences to educational institutions to reproduce and communicate print material for educational purposes, to institutions assisting persons with a print or intellectual disability to reproduce and communicate copyright material for those persons, and to governments to reproduce copyright material for government purposes.

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