The Screen Production Association of Australia has warned about a proposed easing of copyright laws and lamented the fall in the volume of TV drama production.
SPAA’s executive director Matthew Deaner blasted recommendations by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) which he said would repeal all existing copyright exceptions and replace them with a vague US concept known as ‘fair use,’ which would be largely determined by litigation.
That “thinking is out of touch with commercial reality and shows no understanding of the issues facing our sector,” he told Screen Australia’s Jobs, Dollars, Hearts and Minds conference in Canberra. “These views, if left uncorrected, would undermine many legitimate sources of income.”
Deaner said the number of feature films produced today is at best static and there has been a drop in the number of hours of Australian TV drama.
In the documentary field, the volume of hours had increased but the number of titles declined due to the rise of documentary series at the expense of one-off projects.
He acknowledged that in the past five years the producer offset has strengthened the recoupment position of the production business but said there are limited opportunities for private feature film investment and local distribution.
“Coinciding with reduced payments for content are rising expenses – squeezing the budgets and industry in every direction,” he said.
He reiterated SPAA’s chief priorities as increasing the producer offsets; producing “international facing content”; protecting commercial terms via the offset mechanism or content standard; stressing the importance of the national broadcasters; and developing new distribution and commissioning opportunities.
The association aims to build bridges across the screen sector, starting in Canberra on Wednesday with a forum with leaders of the MEAA. On the same day SPAA is hosting the Tomorrow's Australian Screen Stories annual breakfast moderated by Sky News' David Speers, with a policy Q&A between Arts Minister Tony Burke and Shadow Arts Minister Senator George Brandis.