|Australian Digital Alliance
As a result of a need to respond to the issues paper Copyright Reform and the Digital Agenda which was released by the Attorney General's Department and the Department of Community Affairs, the 'Australian Digital Alliance' (ADA) was formed on Wednesday 17 September. The ADA, which is essentially a broad based coalition of copyright user interests in the area of digital copyright, was formed in a fairly ad hoc manner, despite discussions that had been going on and off for the greater part of the year. While the ADA is similar in nature to the US Digital Future Coalition (formed in 1995 in response to the Clinton administrations' White paper on Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure), it is intended to be an independent organisation, and not merely a branch of the DFC.
With the formation of the ADA, ALIA was approached to become a founding member. As there wasn't sufficient time to canvass our membership with General Council, the Copyright Committee agreed that it was worthwhile to commit ourselves to founding membership, particularly given ACLIS' involvement and the fact that there was no financial commitment at that stage. The three founding members are SISA (Supporters of Interoperable Systems in Australia), ACLIS and ALIA.
The membership has grown substantially since then, and I include below a list of current members. Membership is open to any individual or organisation who supports the notion that a balanced copyright regime is essential if Australia is to enjoy the full benefits of digital information and technologies. Membership at this stage involves no financial or other commitment beyond a willingness to openly express support for balanced copyright law.
It is now proposed that of the Alliance hold a one day 'conference' in Canberra, possibly in April 1998, in order to identify common interests and goals of existing and potential members, and to discuss the form and structure of the Alliance. The conference will also address the issue of ongoing funding arrangements. It is also proposed that each organsiation be initially asked to contribute seeding funding of $1 500 to support the conference.
A broad-based coalition such as the ADA has the potential to become a strongly influential player in the copyright law reform process, particularly as we enter the crucial stages of an amended Copyright Act. Evidence of the potential success of such a coalition has already been seen in the efforts of both the DFC in the USA, and the ad hoc coalition of user interests who worked together at the WIPO Conference in Geneva in 1996. Their efforts contributed to the eventual well balanced nature of the Copyright Treaty which resulted from the WIPO treaty.
Given the importance of a balanced digital copyright agenda to the library industry and the members of ALIA and ACLIS, I strongly recommend in principle support for the Australian Digital Alliance and our continued membership.
I also recommend that ALIA contribute $1500 to the proposed conference in 1998 and that any future financial commitments that result from this conference be brought back to General Council for approval.
I acknowledge that some of the above is taken from various e-mails that have been circulating about the ADA, particularly e-mails from Annabelle Herd.