Oz to review copyright law for digital age
Law Reform Commission asked to consider social networks, time-shifting
Australia will review its Copyright Act to ensure the they serve the nation in the digital age.
The review, announced by Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, will “reflect the fact that technology is constantly evolving and testing the boundaries of copyright law," Roxon said.
The eventual review will be handled by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), with last week's announcement commencing the process by issuing draft terms of reverence and calling for community input to frame the exact items to be considered.
"We want to ensure this review has enough scope to look at the key areas of copyright so we're calling on stakeholders to provide us with their feedback before the ALRC begins its work."
The draft terms of reference state that the review should consider “the need for copyright law to provide an appropriate balance between the rights of creators and the rights, interests and expectations of users and the public so as to foster creativity and innovation and promote cultural development.” The review should also note “the importance of the digital economy and the opportunities for innovation leading to national economic and cultural development created by the emergence of new digital technologies.”
Another item for consideration is how copyright law can “facilitate legitimate use of copyright works to create and deliver new products and services of public benefit,” while also allowing “...legitimate non-commercial use of copyright works for uses on the internet such as social networking.”
The announcement draft also mentions that the review will “... examine the adequacy and appropriateness of a broad range of exceptions in the Copyright Act, including time shifting.”
Fiona Phillips, Executive Director of the Australian Copyright Council, said the terms of reference are very broad, but added “Importantly they acknowledge the role of copyright in fostering creativity and innovation.”
But don't expect reform any time soon: the ALRC has until November 2013 to publish its report. ®
@Araldite -- You're right of course.
Of course it's about the Optus/Telstra ruling.
If anyone really cares about this they should read the short and very vague draft terms of reference in the link with the article and then make a submission by 27th April pointing out that very specific issues need to be mentioned in the terms of reference--and that motherhood statements, as in this draft are unsatisfactory, as commercial vested interests will use this to their advantage. .
We need to include topics such as:
- What exactly is copyright, is the definition the same now as it was 120 years ago at the Berne Convention?
- What is the real extent of fair use? (People being afraid to test the extent, Wiki for example.)
- What is the dividing line between the public domain and copyright? Anything's that's published has some leakage into the public domain as people know of or remember parts of what's published -- of this leakage what can be mentioned /published -- the internet changes this' for example: once a popular copyrighted song heard on the radio may have been hummed or sung by the masses (to each other or with others listening), if the internet is used as a 'hard' copy of such social interaction it will automatically attract the wrath of publishers, whereas the former would never have done so (except at an organized public performance--on stage etc.).
- Continued protection of publishers by restricting access to orphaned works. 70-90% of 20th C. works are orphaned--still copyrighted BUT without owners. Orphaned works, if put in the public domain, would increase the pool of available material. Copyright holders have extreme objections to this and copyright law reflects their wishes (effectively, this is a form of restrictive trade practice).
- The never-ending extensions in copyright durations have little or nothing to do with commercial realities of copyright--extensions being vastly longer than the times for any meaningful monetary returns. This is another way of reducing the pool of available material, hence less competition for publishers. This part of Copyright Law is effectively state-sanctioned affirmative action for publishers. (I wish the law would protect my work/income like that.)
Topics such as those within this rough list (and others) need to be spelt out in the terms of reference. Otherwise, their absence gives the reviewers a way out, and the commercial lobbyists a way in to get exactly what they want. And this is not in the best interests of the general public.
This is a direct result of Optus winning the court case where it can time shift and rebroadcast AFL and NRL matches, product that Telstra owns. Except that no one will admit this.
we're calling on stakeholders to provide us with...
Wads of cash and cushy job offers.