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Issue #1766      February 22, 2017

Open Letter

Opposition to Productivity Commission Recommendations on copyright in Australia

We the undersigned unanimously reject the Productivity Commission’s Recommendations on copyright in Australia. The recommendations to change copyright protections will harm the ability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander film and television makers, writers, artists, musicians and journalists to tell Indigenous stories and make a living.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and creators have a right to receive fair payment for their work. The changes to Australian copyright laws being pushed by the Productivity Commission, large organisations and big technology companies will greatly diminish these protections.

This is not just unfair, it is a threat to the artistic mob and means it may be even harder to make a living for the next generation of artists. Our kids should be able to grow up inspired by artists like Albert Namatjira and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, listening to music from artists like Dan Sultan and Jessica Mauboy and watching movies like Bran Nue Dae and Samson and Delilah and TV shows like Black Comedy and Basically Black and reading books like Shake a Leg and My Place.

Ownership, responsibility and control by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of their cultural heritage is paramount. The suggested changes will have a detrimental impact on the stories, imagery, knowledge and heritage which is embodied in our story-telling and artistic works.

Ownership is also a way of economic empowerment for those artists who earn money from selling, reselling and reproducing their works.

We call on the Australian government and parliament to rule out these proposed changes from the Productivity Commission.

  • Vernon Ah Kee (Artist)
  • Jada Alberts (Actor, Writer,Director)
  • Dave Arden (Musician)
  • Bronwyn Bancroft (Artist, Fashion Designer and Copyright Agency Board Member)
  • Bibi Barba (Artist)
  • William Baron (Performer, Composer)
  • Larissa Behrendt (Filmmaker, Academic)
  • Richard Bell (Artist)
  • Kevin Bennett (Musician)
  • Rachel Bin Salleh (Publisher)
  • Mervyn Bishop (Filmmaker)
  • Wayne Blair (Filmmaker, Director, Actor)
  • Brendon Boney (Singer, Songwriter)
  • Adam Briggs (Musician, Writer and Actor)
  • Troy Cassar-Daley (Musician)
  • Beck Cole (Director and Screenwriter)
  • Brenda Croft (Curator, Academic)
  • Julie Dowling (Artist)
  • Leah Flanagan (Singer, Songwriter)
  • Julie Gough (Artist, Writer and Curator)
  • Aroha Groves (Artist, Designer)
  • Rarriwuy Hicks (Actor)
  • Terri Janke (Copyright Lawyer)
  • Melissa Lucashenko (Writer)
  • Jessica Mauboy (Singer, songwriter, Actress)
  • Rachael Maza (Artistic Director, Actor, Narrator)
  • Philip McLaren (Author, Academic)
  • Sally Morgan (Author, Dramatist)
  • Hunter Page-Lochard (Actor)
  • Bruce Pascoe (Writer, Teacher,Historian)
  • Sandra Phillips (Academic, Chair of the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN) and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Indigenous Story)
  • Leah Purcell (Actor, Director, Writer)
  • Kim Scott (Novelist, Writer)
  • Shari Sebbens (Actor)
  • Bjorn Stewart (Actor, Writer)
  • Dan Sultan (Singer, Songwriter)
  • Jared Thomas (Author, Playwright, Poet, Academic)
  • Gina Williams (Singer, Songwriter)
  • Tara June Winch (Writer)
  • Jason Wing (Artist)
  • Anita Heiss (Author, Presenter and Commentator)


  • AACHWA (Peak body for Aboriginal Art Centres across Western Australia)
  • Boomalli (Aboriginal Artists Co-operative representing 50 artists)
  • Desart (representing over 40 Central Australian Aboriginal Art Centres)
  • Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (Representing 13 arts centres across far north Queensland)
  • Koori Heritage Trust
  • Moogahlin Performing Arts Incorporated

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