05 Jul 2012

Australian copyright law under review

by John Collins

The main focus for the ALRC will be copyright exemptions.

There's now some more certainty about the Australian Government's review of copyright law, with the release this week of the terms of reference.

The focus is on exceptions, with the ALRC being asked to consider the current ones, and also whether further exceptions should:

  • recognise fair use of copyright material;
  • allow transformative, innovative and collaborative use of copyright materials to create and deliver new products and services of public benefit; and
  • allow appropriate access, use, interaction and production of copyright material online for social, private or domestic purposes.

The ALRC has to look at this in the context of our international obligations, the importance of the digital economy, and the policy balance between the rights of copyright owners and users.

This of course comes at a time when copyright issues are being considered in other reviews. The ALRC must take into account recommendations from related reviews, in particular the Government’s Convergence Review, but can't duplicate work on:

  • unauthorised distribution of copyright materials using peer to peer networks; 
  • the scope of the safe harbour scheme for ISPs; or 
  • increased access to copyright works for persons with a print disability.

It also cannot duplicate the work of the just-announced review of exceptions in relation to technological protection measures.

The next steps are for the ALRC to release an Issues Paper in August 2012, with the Final Report due by November 2013.


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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.