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Parallel Imports: What's the fuckin story???

MYTH: The Australian Music Industry is uncompetitive
FACT: In Australia hundreds of record labels and publishers and thousands of retailers compete for the consumers dollar. There are regular discounts at both a wholesale and retail level.

MYTH: Australian CD buyers are ripped off by profiteers and forced to pay up to $7 million more for their CD's than consumers in the United States.
FACT: The main difference between the price of CD's in Australia and the United States is sales tax. While the United States retail tax ranges from nothing to as little as 8.25%, in Australia the Federal Government imposes a massive 22% wholesale tax and consumers end up paying the price.

MYTH: Copyright laws stopping CD imports have no place in the modern world.
FACT: the Coalition Government is moving to abandon the very copyright laws most other countries have seen fit to adopt. IN this decade alone, nine new countries have joined the long list of markets using copyright laws like Australia's. These markets include the USA, European Union, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, FIland, Norway, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Jamaica, Latvia, Russia and Bulgaria.

MYTH: Piracy and counterfeit CD trade poses no threat to the Australian Music Industry.
FACT: Piracy and coutnerfeit trade is a $5 billion a year, worldwide problem. Uncontrolled imports provide the perfect environment for dumping counterfeit and deleted CD's into Australia. Piracy will decimatethe Australian Music Industry, costing jobs and investment in local music, by stealing as much as 30% of the market.

MYTH: Record COmpanies make super profits
FACT: While Australia's recording industry makes average profits (7.5%, Australian Bureau of Statistics Oct, '97 Report), the Coalition Government, wielding its massive wholesale tax, takes more than $100 million a year from consumers buying CD's and cassettes.

MYTH: Copyright import laws are a tariff
FACT: Copyright ensures ownership of music by those who have invested money, time and energy into it's production. And just as we are able to sell our property, whether it be our car or stereo or surfboard, copyright enables 'rightful owners' to sell their music. If the Federal Government wants to take away copyright property, what will it take next????

Some things to think about

Retails prices vary considerably and the Top 40 Titles sell from $22 through to $29.95. Most competitive pricing being $23.95 or $24.95 being obtainable through chain stores. The cost of CD's could be reduced further if the government were to reduce/abolsh the unfair 22% sales tax - which adds $4 - $5 to every CD sold. A promise by the government to reduce the prics of CD's is not the same as repealing important copyright provisions.

The fact that prices are higher here than the US is not due to import laws - it's due to different tax and royalty saystems. Tax on US CD's is levied at ratesbetween 0-7% which is far lower than Australia's 22% sales tax. Also Australia pays higher royalties to it's music composers than the US because of the smaller market in Australia compared. Other countries do not have a fixed wholesale tax which is a hidden slug to the consumer without which CD prices would be even cheaper in this country.

Parallel Import Rights ensure that the sales of successful albums are made only by the investment/risk taker adn this prevents oppurtunistic traders unproductively cashing in on the investors promotion of those successful titles. It is not just the multi national record companies that will lose the incentive to develop Australian talent as a result of the drastic change in our Copyright Laws. It will reduce, if not destroy, the incentive for privatley funded undependent operators as well. Returns go back to the investors who take the risks and who have committed themselves to long term investment. In a high risk industry (where the average is a one in ten success rate) the amount of investment will be greatly reduced and the size of the local artist rosterwill also have to be culled. There will be no room for 'let's see and develop' Australian culture will suffer.

These changes will create loss of job security for the thousands of men and women working in the Australian Music Industry - at all levels. The government promises and uncertain future for these people. Australian consumers will not reap benefits from dismantling the import provisions in Australia's Copyright Act. In fact they willbe adversely affected by an industry which will be forced to cut jobs and decrease investments.

COPYRIGHT/PIRACY/OVERSEAS Australia's current laws means we have a very low instance of priacy. Increasing penalties for piracy will not prevent the flood of such a product entering Australia. Customs and AFP have already said they will not be able to control the situation if open imports are allowed. Piracy is a major threat to the Australian Music INdustry, requiring rigorous measures to combat it, and the moral, legal and legislative support by the Parallel Import Rights. Increased penalties for pirates will have no effect, the police and customs are unable to detect, curtail or control pirates at present. Copyright is not a trade or price mechanism. It is a PROPERTY RIGHT. The cost of piracy to the Australian industry is currently $10 million in lost sales - this will increase dramatically when uncontrolled imports enter Australia. In 1993 Norway decided to re-introduce Parallel Import Laws after it was found that imports did not produce lower prices. There was no incentive to invest in local artists, the range of music titles had been reduced and piracy had captured close to 40% of the market.

Import Provisions are not a monopoly. They are a part of Australia's (and the world's) copyright provisions. Import laws do not just affect the so called 'foreign multinational record companies'. It effects every record label in Australia - large and small.

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