Productivity Commission Inquiry Report Released
On 20 December 2016, the Australian Government publicly released the final report of the Productivity Commission inquiry into Intellectual Property Arrangements. Find the full report here. While the inquiry looked at all intellectual property arrangements in Australian law, several recommendations were made specific or relating to copyright:
- Replacing the current four fair dealing exceptions with a fair use exception. Currently exceptions in the Copyright Act are narrowly defined and do not capture many non-commercial everyday uses of copyright material.
- Allow consumers to circumvent technological protection measures for legitimate
uses of copyright material. For example, research students are currently prevented using video material from DVDs without permission because this media is usually encrypted.
- Limitation of liability for use of orphaned works where diligent searching fails to ascertain the relevant rights holder. Currently (and despite common assumption), a failure to locate a rights holder is no defence or limitation to damages in a copyright infringement matter.
- Prevent enforcement of contract terms which restrict the availability of exceptions in the Copyright Act. Currently when paying to licence copyright material in one way, a licensee is required to forego rights given under the Copyright Act to use the material in other ways.
- Include a statement in the Copyright Act that circumventing geoblocking is not an infringement of copyright law. Currently it is unclear about the legal position of using VPN technology to avoid country specific pricing and availability of digital products.
- Expansion of the safe harbour provisions to include all online services. Currently only certain internet service providers and telecommunications providers are protected.
- Improved governance and transparency of copyright collecting societies, including a review of the industry voluntary code of conduct by the ACCC. Currently collecting societies are governed by an industry code which has significant self-regulation.
- Repeal parts of the Competition and Consumer Act which exclude intellectual property (and copyright) from certain competition law protections.
- Changes to the Federal Circuit Court to expedite intellectual property disputes and limit legal costs.
More commentary on these developments:
- Copyright shake-up: What you see and hear could be about to change by Peter Martin. The Age 20 December 2016.
- Intellectual Property: Copyright rules make us break the law 80 times a day, says Productivity Commission by Peter Martin. The Age 20 December 2016.