Australia's Assn. of Independent Records Labels (AIR) has rejected calls for the implementation of a blank-media tax, which could be used as blanket compensation for copyright owners whose works are b

Australia's Assn. of Independent Records Labels (AIR) has rejected calls for the implementation of a blank-media tax, which could be used as blanket compensation for copyright owners whose works are being copied onto CD-Rs and DVD-Rs.

The trade body's chair David Vodicka argues that copyright owners have the right to protect their copyrights, and that a blank-media levy does not provide a long-term solution to piracy in Australia.

"This issue is an exceedingly difficult issue and there is no easy solution," Vodicka adds. "However, as the value of our members is ultimately held within the copyrights they control, we cannot see how the reduction of these rights will ultimately provide compensation equivalent to what will be lost to private copying."

Vodicka believes that digital rights management technology and copy control are better solutions than the blank-media levy. He says he intends to approach the Federal Government on launching a public-awareness campaign about the value of intellectual copyright. Currently, Australians making personal copies of recorded music are in breach of the country's Copyright Act. Penalties range from A$500 ($350) to A$5,000 ($3,500).

AIR represents 280 labels, and in July moved its headquarters from Sydney to Brisbane, where its new executive officer Stuart Watters is based.

A campaign to amend Australia's Copyright Act (1968) to allow music copying for personal use was launched in mid-June by Phil Tripp, managing director of Sydney-based events company Immedia and publisher of the Australasian Music Industry Directory. He approached 25 music associations to gain support.

The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Australian Consumers Association supported the campaign. It was rejected, however, by the Australian Record Industry Assn. (ARIA) and the Australian Music Retailers Association.

ARIA's CEO Stephen Peach and APRA's CEO Brett Cottle debated the issue during a seminar held yesterday (Aug. 17) in Melbourne. The seminar, organized by the Music Managers Forum, will move on to Sydney next Monday (Aug. 23).

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