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Journalist's fees under threat from copyright changes

The Australian Law Reform Commission is proposing changes to copyright law that could limit journalists’ wages.

At the moment journalists are entitled to fees for copyright in works they have written. The Copyright Agency collects the fees and distributes them.

A consultation is underway to replace the system with exemptions and direct licensing arrangements.

Fair use provisions have operated on a de facto basis online in the digital age. The introduction of a fair use provision is said to be likely to restrict payments to journalists.

"New 'free' exceptions will also reduce opportunities for licensing solutions to benefit journalists," the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance union said.

"There is however an opportunity to reduce the effect of some current exceptions to enable licensing opportunities."

Last year the agency distributed $141.6 million in copyright payments.