The Australian Copyright Trust (now trading as The Surveyors’ Trust), was formed in 2001 by Jack de Lange and a group of Queensland surveyors with the same intention that it has today – to pool the returns from royalties paid for copying of surveyors’ plans and using that pool of funds for the benefit of the industry.
The Trust was established in 2001 with Spatial Queensland Limited as its trustee. There followed several years of legal debate regarding ownership of survey plan copyrights, culminating in a decision in favour of surveyors in the High Court of Australia in 2008.
Consequently, the PlanXchange was established and has been operating since mid 2009.
Legal debate led by Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) continued in the Federal Court to determine the rate of royalties payable for government copying of survey plans. That debate was concluded in 2014 for NSW and has been extended to other jurisdictions. CAL signed an agreement with the Queensland Government early in 2015 and others have followed since.
In anticipation of continuing income streams, the trusteeship of the Trust was transferred to a new independent company (ACT Administration Limited) established for the purpose. Members of the trustee company are active members of the Trust (ie. still registered by the relevant Surveyors Board).
Listen to an interview with Jack de Lange, Director, The Surveyors’ Trust:
History of copyright in surveying