Online Copyright Reform Discussion Board: Have your Say

June 27, 2013

As part of its inquiry into copyright and the digital economy, the Australian Law Reform Commission has launched an online discussion board on when it is ‘fair’ to use someone else’s content without their permission.

In its Discussion Paper released on 5 June, the ALRC proposed that Australian copyright legislation be amended to introduce a ‘fair use’ exception similar to that operating in the US.

Australian copyright law contains many ‘exceptions’ that allow use of other people’s content for specific purposes such as research, critique and reporting news. Under a ‘fair use’ exception, content can be used for any purpose, providing the use meets a set of criteria set out in the legislation.

The ALRC proposes a list of ‘illustrative’ purposes, but the exception would apply to other purposes as well. The ALRC says that the assessment of whether a use is ‘fair’ requires consideration of matters such as:

  • is the use commercial?
  • is it ‘transformative’?
  • is the work being used ‘creative’?
  • has it been published?
  • how much of the work is being used? how important is the part used?
  • what is the market effect of the use?

In the US, the fair use exception has held by courts to apply to commercial purposes, usually where the use is ‘transformative’.

Much of the debate about whether whether a fair use exception is a good or bad idea centres on the uncertainty of a ‘flexible’ exception, and the extent to which uncertainty would have to be resolved through litigation.


You can post your comments on the ALRC’s fair use proposal to the Discussion Board.

Some of the issues you may have views about are:

  • the sorts of situations in which you think it is fair for other people to use your work without permission or payment
  • the sorts of situations in which you think it is fair for you to use someone else’s work without permission or payment
  • the conditions that should apply when people use your work without permission or payment (e.g. relating to acknowledgement, changes to the work, personal use)

To give some context for your views, give some information about your profession or business, and how it is affected by the copyright system.

The closing date is 24 July.


You can also put your views on other issues to the ALRC by 31 July: more here.

26 June 2013

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