It was never about piracy: It was always about choice

Vanessa Hutley
| June 23, 2015

A successful music industry relies on strong copyright frameworks, where artists can choose how their music is published online and the industry can function viably. Vanessa Hutley explores Music Rights Australia’s work to strengthen these important frameworks.

An artist has a right to choose where, when and how their creative works are made available to the public

Over the last three and half years Music Rights Australia (MRA), with the support of its stakeholders APRA AMCOS and ARIA, has worked with a range of stakeholders across the creative industries on three strategic policy  goals designed to improve the online environment for the creative industries.

The three initiatives are:

  • The development of a code with ISPs to address the use of unlicensed music on their networks;
  • The introduction of a right for copyright owners to apply for court orders to block illegal sites. These illegal sites make enormous amounts of money from advertising but do not support the legitimate market; and
  • The introduction of a set of principles which the online advertising community can adopt to ensure brands are not inadvertently funding illegal sites with their advertising dollars.

Often these initiatives are characterised as “anti-piracy” initiatives but frankly that term misses the point and obscures the central issue which binds the three policy goals together.  It can be summarised as: My music, my choice.

The choices which creators make about how their work will be made available to the public should be able to be protected online.  Each one of the three goals is designed to improve the options available to the music community when its members find their music online without their permission.

For some that may mean taking steps to remove the material; for others that may mean having a notice sent by an ISP to educate a consumer about sources of licensed music; others may seek to negotiate a licence arrangement to allow the material to continue to be online and for yet another it may mean ensuring an appropriate attribution is given to their work.


Your guide to finding safe and licensed digital content.

Whatever the step they wish to take, each one of those people should be able to have the choices they have made about how their work will be made available to their fans respected online and there should be effective mechanisms available to them to make those choices meaningful.

The three initiatives are at various stages of development and there are many opinions about each one of them, some positive, some negative and some indifferent.

MRA believes they will make a difference because in combination they help educate people about what they are doing and where they can find licensed content; they disrupt the illegal businesses which do nothing to support the legitimate market and they encourage allied industries to put in place effective measures to starve the illegal businesses of funds.  It is hoped this will allow the legitimate marketplace to thrive and grow for the benefit of consumers and the creative communities and those who invest in them.

Currently Australian consumers have over 30 licensed online music services to choose from. They never had so much choice to get the music they love where, when and how they want it at a range of prices, including free.

The three proposals which MRA has been supporting are also about choice and we hope we can all agree on the fundamental proposition that an artist has a right to choose where, when and how their creative works are made available to the public and that when that choice is ignored they should be able to take effective steps to ensure their choice is respected.

More information can be found at Music Rights Australia website.

Vanessa Hutley

General Manager

Music Rights Australia



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