The latest copyright news

April 9, 2018

Copyright modernisation consultation

The Department of Communications and the Arts has opened a new consultation process on reform options for copyright.

It has released a ‘Copyright modernisation consultation paper’ and is asking for views on three areas of the Copyright Act that is says “may benefit from modernisation”.

  • Flexible exceptions: “which need to adapt over time to provide access to copyright material in special cases as they emerge”
  • Contracting out of exceptions: “which can reduce access to copyright materials for users”
  • Access to orphan works: “which exist when copyright owners can’t be found and users lose access to copyright materials”

The Department intends to meet with copyright stakeholder groups and will hold a series of roundtables with multiple stakeholder groups on specific reform issues in late April through to the middle of May.

The Department is inviting submissions by 5pm on Monday 4 June 2018.

‘Safe Harbour’ Bill

In December last year, the Senate referred the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017 (or Safe Harbour Bill) to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry. The report of that committee has now been tabled.

This bill would extend the operation of the safe harbour scheme to a broader range of service providers including educational institutions, libraries, archives, key cultural institutions and organisation assisting persons with a disability.

‘Safe harbours’ provide protection against copyright infringement for organisations, such as internet service providers, for the actions of their users or customers.

Thirty-nine submissions have been received.

The Committee recommends that the Senate pass the Bill and stated on page 21 of the report (point 2.56):

“Given the divergence of stakeholder views and the complexity of the issues being considered, the committee supports the Government’s incremental approach to safe harbour reform. The proposed amendments will ensure that educational and cultural institutions and organisations assisting people with a disability will be afforded protection immediately. The committee considers this to be a balanced and reasonable approach. The committee also notes and appreciates the reassurance that the department will continue its consultation with stakeholders.”

Review of the Code of Conduct for Collecting Societies

Submissions have now closed into the Department of Communications and the Arts’  review of the Code of Conduct for Copyright Collecting Societies.

Some 20 formal submissions to the review have now been made public.

Digital Platforms Inquiry

Submissions closed on 3 April to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s inquiry into digital platforms.

The inquiry is exploring the effect that digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms have on competition in media and advertising services markets. In particular, the inquiry is looking at the impact of digital platforms on the supply of news and journalistic content and the implications of this for media content creators, advertisers and consumers.

An issues paper for the inquiry was released on 26 February 2018. The preliminary report is to be submitted to the Treasurer by 3 December 2018, with a final report due by 3 June 2019.

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