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February 21, 2024

Robert Thompson bequeaths $15,000 to the ASA

Last year, we were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of member Robert Thompson, who joined the ASA in 1982 and supported us for a substantial length of our 60-year history. Upon Robert’s passing, we were honoured to receive a $15,000 bequest to the ASA Endowment Fund to help us continue advocating for Australian authors and illustrators.

The ASA does not receive Government funding as an organisation, and would not exist without the generosity and support of our members. Whether it’s through continued membership, answering calls to action, or donating generously to help sustain advocacy efforts, time and again our strength as an organisation has come from our members. 

This bequest is an extraordinary contribution which will make a meaningful impact on the work we are able to do. Advocacy is one of the most important functions of the ASA; the results of our campaigns have long and wide-reaching benefits for creators. 

We have made submissions to Government on every copyright consultation and reform since our inception in 1963.  Our advocacy was instrumental in achieving Lending Rights in 1975 (PLR), 2000 (ELR), and 2023 (DLR) as well as a spotlight on writers in the National Cultural Policy. We were fundamental in establishing the Australian Copyright Council, and Copyright Agency, and have a long history of fighting for fair pay – including by recommending minimum rates – and fair contracts

More recently, we’ve been raising concerns with Government about the significant risks generative artificial intelligence (AI) poses to writers and illustrators, and the harmful ways in which it has been developed. Tech giants have harvested copyrighted material without permission or payment, to build and launch AI models reaping vast financial rewards. Authors and illustrators have been locked out of the financial benefits of the AI boom when their works are essential to the development of this technology. The ASA’s  position is that we need urgent regulation requiring AI developers to be transparent about the training data they use; obtain consent from creators to use their work, and offer a fair licence fee. 

Alongside Government consultation we’ve been surveying members, meeting with industry organisations to raise author and illustrator concerns, organising media coverage, updating authors and illustrators on the latest developments, and providing advice on negotiating publishing contracts through Authors Legal. All of this work is only possible with our members’ support.

This bequest will enable us to build on the groundwork started last year, and strengthen our advocacy efforts in the face of the very urgent risks generative artificial intelligence poses. On behalf of the staff, Board, and members of the ASA, we would like to give our sincere thanks to Robert Thompson for this remarkable contribution, and send our condolences to his loved ones at his passing.

If you would like to find out more about bequests, please contact us at [email protected] or 02 9211 1004, or make a donation here. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.