Greens Copyright Bill Referred to Senate Committee

July 3, 2013

Greens Senator Scott Ludlum introduced a Private Member’s Bill last week that would amend the Copyright Act in three areas:

  • introduction of an exception allowing ‘fair use’, similar to the exception operating in the US
  • extension of the ‘safe harbour’ provisions for internet service providers to other online service providers, including educational institutions
  • provisions that allow the circumvention of ‘technological protection measures’

All three areas are the subject of current inquiry.


As part of its inquiry into copyright and the digital economy, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has proposed that Australia’s copyright legislation be amended to introduce an exception for ‘fair use‘. It would be similar to that operating in the US, and would apply to business-related and large-scale uses as well as private uses. In the US, Google argues that its digitisation of millions of books is allowed by the ‘fair use’ exception.

Submissions to the ALRC on this and other proposals are due by 31 July. The ALRC’s final report is due by 30 November.


Australian copyright law includes provisions that limit the remedies for infringement for internet service providers if they take certain actions, such as taking down infringing content from a website on notification by the copyright holder.

Other online service providers such as Google, Facebook and eBay are seeking extension of the provisions to them. So are educational institutions.

The issue is under review by the Attorney-General’s Department.


Australian copyright law includes sanctions against the manufacture, sale and use of devices and mechanisms that circumvent ‘technological protection measures’ aimed at inhibiting unauthorised access to, or use of, content. These are sometimes referred to as ‘DRM’.

There are a number of exemptions that allow circumvention for a number of special purposes. The Government conducts periodic reviews of the exemptions.


The Bill has been referred to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications: information on inquiryhere.

Submissions are due by 31 August. Make a submission online or email

Submissions to the ALRC on issues relevant to the Bill could also be lodged with the Senate Committee.

The Committee is due to report by 3 October.

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