Attorney General Answers Questions on ALRC Report


On 2 December 2013, the Attorney General received the final report from the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) on its inquiry into copyright and the digital economy. On 5 December, the Attorney General answered some questions without notice in Parliament.

The Attorney General said that the Government would be responding to the report in the new year.

He said that the final report recommends:

  • introduction of a flexible fair-use exception as a defence to copyright infringement
  • retaining and reforming some of the existing specific exemptions
  • introducing certain new specific exemptions
  • amending the Act to clarify the statutory licensing scheme
  • limiting the remedies available for copyright infringement to encourage the use of orphaned works
  • reforming broadcasting exemptions
  • amending the act to limit contracting-out terms

The Attorney General also outlined the Government’s views on intellectual property protection:

Australia’s creative industries are not just a vital part of our culture but a thriving sector of our economy. In 2011, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that the creative industries in Australia were worth $93 billion, which is around 6.6 per cent of GDP. The industries employ 900,000 Australians or about 8.8 per cent of the workforce, which makes them Australia’s seventh largest industry—bigger than construction and bigger than retail. It is important that, just like other workers out in our economy, those who make our great films and record our great albums are entitled to the fruits of their efforts. Without strong, robust copyright laws, they are at risk of being cheated of the fair compensation for their creativity, which is their due and the Australian government will continue to protect them.

I want to reaffirm the government’s commitment to the content industries. It is the government’s strong view that the fundamental principles of intellectual property law, which protect the rights of content creators, have not changed merely because of the emergence of new media and new platforms. The principles underlying intellectual property law and the values which acknowledge the rights of creative people are not a function of the platform on which that creativity is expressed. The principles did not change with the invention of the internet and the emergence of social media. So in this changing digital world, the government’s response to the ALRC report will be informed by the view that the rights of content owners and content creators ought not to be lessened and that they are entitled to continue to benefit from their intellectual property.

More on ALRC inquiry here.

6 December 2013

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