News October 26, 2015

Bruce Woodley has ‘I Am Australian’ court costs set aside

Bruce Woodley of The Seekers has had court costs imposed on him by the Copyright Tribunal over the I Am Australian case, overturned by the Federal Court. 


Woodley (far left) and Pocketful of Tunes Pty Ltd, a company which he co-owns, first appeared before the Copyright Tribunal in July 2014 wanting compensation from the Commonwealth Government for unauthorised use of I Am Australian.  


Without license, the song was used in 2008 by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on a DVD that was given to local councils be played during citizenship ceremonies across the country. By November 2012, it had been used by 565 councils. 


Before the case began in the Copyright Tribunal, the Commonwealth made an offer to Woodley through the Federal Court to settle. Woodley rejected the terms. 


Following a two-day hearing in the Tribunal, Woodley was awarded a lump sum compensation of $149,743, plus legal costs up to the time the offer was made by the Commonwealth. But he had to cop the court costs incurred after the offer. 


Believing it was improper, the legal team of GI & Sanicki Lawyers together with Stephen Rebikoff and Adrian Ryan SC (both of counsel) successfully applied to have the decision set aside.  


According to a statement from the legal firm, “These grounds included the submission that the Tribunal did not have authority to make the decision or that it was unauthorised by the Copyright Act. It was submitted that this was so, given that the Offer was made prior to the commencement of the proceedings before the Tribunal, on behalf of persons not party to the proceedings before the Tribunal, and in relation to claims which were different from those the subject of the proceedings before the Tribunal.” 


As a result of the Federal Court’s decision, the matter will be remitted back to the Tribunal to reassess the questions of cost. It is expected the matter will be resolved by the end of this year. 


Woodley wrote I Am Australian in 1987 with Dobe Newton of the Bushwackers. It quickly gained status as an “alternate national anthem. He song has been used by Telstra and the Salvation Army in campaigns, and has clocked up 1.2 million YouTube views.

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