Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Arbitrary Rulings

Sometimes, it seems, courts are able to put economics to use and come up with reasonable answers. Other times, it seems that they are just pulling things out of thin air. I came across this today, which discusses an Australian decision on the licenses that schools should pay for photocopies. This comes as a result of Australia's "equitable remuneration" standard as opposed to a market-based standard like the hypothetical negotiation standards in the US and UK. Anyway, here's the highlights:

The Tribunal therefore proceeded to determine a base rate of 4 cents per page, from which rates appropriate to specific categories of works were calculated.

In the case of artistic works and poetry, the Tribunal set a rate of 8 cents per page, on the basis that when copying such material, usually the whole of the work is taken.

A rate of 6 cents per page was set for plays and short stories on the basis that when these works are copied, it is less likely that the whole of the work is taken, however what is copied is likely to be “the ‘heart’ or substance” of the work.

Finally a rate of 40 cents per page was set for the copying of works onto overhead transparencies, slides, and permanent display copies. This rate reflects the fact that such copies allow a work to be viewed by many students at a time, as well as the enduring nature of these particular types of copies.

How much do you think lawyers billed over the course of this dispute, just to have an answer come out of thin air like this?


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