Australia's Copyright Tribunal has begun its deliberations over the country's digital download royalty rate for authors rights.

The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the society's sister organization AMCOS (Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) lodged an application with the Copyright Tribunal back in 2007 to raise the tariff on digital downloads from 8% of retail price to 12%. The case has now finally reached the Tribunal.

"The current rate of 8% has always been regarded as an interim rate. And now that the download industry is firmly established, I believe an increase is fair compensation for the songwriters," Bob Aird, managing director of Universal Music Publishing Australia, tells Billboard.biz.

Facing off against APRA and AMCOS are Apple, Telstra and two of the major record label groups, Universal Music and Sony Music.

The case, which began Nov. 30, is scheduled to last for three weeks of evidence, with a further week before the end of February for final submissions.

In other news, the boards of APRA and AMCOS have welcomed some new, and some familiar faces. Mushroom Music managing director Ian James and Sony/ATV Music Publishing managing director Damian Trotter retired as APRA Publisher Directors, offered themselves for re-election and were returned.

Tim Prescott, CEO of Albert Music, was newly elected to the board, succeeding his Alberts’ colleague Fifa Riccobono, who retired from the APRA board after 14 years of service.

Also during the Nov. 25 APRA and AMCOS AGM in Sydney, the AMCOS board saw a string of changes including the election of IS Music managing director and AMPAL GM Mark Callaghan, and the retirement from the board of Keith Welsh.

Mike Perjanik returned as chair of APRA -- a position he has held for 20 years -- while Mushroom's James returned as AMCOS chair. APRA and AMCOS board directors serve three successive annual year terms in office.