For many years, Universities Australia has made submissions to the Triennial Reviews and Annual Compliance Reviews and our position remains the same. The Australian statutory licensing system is broken. The existing regulatory regime does not ensure accountability, transparency or fair conduct on the part of the declared collecting societies. To allow declared collecting societies to create their own voluntary Code of Conduct and then determine if they have complied with it is an inappropriate mechanism for ensuring accountability. As custodians of royalties collected from publicly-funded educational institutions under a legislated declaration, there must be more robust oversight of their operations.
In our view, the obligations that declared collecting societies owe both members and licensees regarding use of statutory funds, as well as the standards of transparency that the collecting societies are required to meet, should be mandated by Government at least partly on the basis that there is a clear market failure in the existing arrangements. Universities Australia would support a comprehensive transparency review into the declared societies as a first step in moving towards a mandated accountability system.
Universities Australia has continued at each opportunity to make submissions to this effect, including as part of the most recent Annual Compliance Review undertaken by The Hon Kevin Lindgren AM, SC. While we recognise that the Annual Review relates to compliance with the Code, rather than oversight of the Code itself, we take the view that it is important at each opportunity to remind interested parties that the system of accountability for declared societies is, in general, not fit for purpose.
We urge the Triennial Code Reviewer to consider the attachments to this document as Universities Australia’s position on this matter. Attachment A is Universities Australia’s submission to the most recent Annual Code of Conduct Compliance Review and Attachment B is our submission to the consultation on the Code of Conduct undertaken by the Department of Communications in August 2017.