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April, 2024

New report shows unlicensed content use as a hidden threat in Australian businesses

New research reveals a concerning trend among Australian white-collar workers, with a significant 66% accessing published content in their roles, but only 7% certain their business has a licence to use the material.

The research, conducted by Fiftyfive5 on behalf of Copyright Agency, also found 45% of workers don’t consider copyright laws when performing their duties. This lack of awareness could be contributing to an estimated 505 million potential copyright infringements occurring each year within Australian businesses.

The study involved over 1,800 white-collar workers and found that the most frequently used copyright materials in business settings are newspapers, journals, and industry reports. A significant 74% of respondents who use copyright materials said they utilise industry reports or research papers, with 55% receiving this type of material from a colleague or third party.

Meanwhile, 45% of workers who use copyright materials access news articles, with 51% preferring to access newspaper or magazine articles from sites without a paywall.

Leadership positions were found to be the most likely to download copyright material for sharing purposes (60%). Human resources and marketing and communication roles were identified as the most frequent users of copyright content within businesses. Interestingly, 40% of workers are using journal articles in the workplace, with 46% doing so at least once a week. Journal articles are more commonly used by highly-skilled workers such as healthcare professionals and engineers.

“It’s clear from the results how valuable copyright content is to Australian businesses, but the unlicensed use of this content is cause for concern. Publishers and rightsholders will be alarmed to know the extent to which staff within Australian businesses are distributing and copying content without the appropriate copyright licences in place,” said CEO of Copyright Agency, Josephine Johnston.

Another point Johnstone highlighted was the widespread issue of potential copyright infringement across Australian businesses, attributing it partly to a “misunderstanding, or lack of knowledge, as to how content can be used or shared by businesses in a copyright-compliant fashion.”

“Every role is different, and requires permission to access and use different types of material. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to copyright usage but it’s clear that material is being copied and shared without awareness or avoidance of risk,” Johnston added.

The Copyright Agency is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that represents 40,000 members across the publishing, media, visual arts and education sectors.