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Our History

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 where he further explains the history and how the Trust came about:

Listen now

History of copyright in surveying

  • 1996 – Spatial Queensland began discussions with a copyright lawyer to investigate the ownership of copyright in cadastral plans lodged by statute in the titles registry and explore potential benefits to industry
  • 1998 - Consulting Surveyors Australia involved Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) as the 'declared collecting society' — a concept introduced into the Copyright Act in 1998
  • 2001 – The Trust was established when surveyors in Queensland resolved to pool the returns and commercialise the intellectual property in survey plans generally
  • 2005 – The Trust becomes a member of Copyright Agency Limited to receive royalties collected from government copying of plans
  • 2008 - High Court ruled in favour of the ownership of intellectual property by surveyors in plans lodged in titles registries
  • 2014 - Royalty rate in NSW was set by the Copyright Tribunal
  • 2015 - Queensland Government signed an agreement with CAL and other states follow
  • 2015 - ACT Administration Limited was established as the trustee of the Trust
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