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Australia's Copyright Act gets digital upgrade

ALRC hands down terms of ref

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The Australian Law Reform Commission has released the final terms of reference of its review of copyright.

The Attorney-General’s Department received in excess of 60 submissions in response to the draft terms of reference, which were released for public consultation in March this year.

The revised terms for "Copyright and the Digital Economy" are broad ranging and involve balancing the rights of copyright owners with the interests of new content services and the public in fostering the digital economy.

The Copyright Act has been subject to amendments over the last 12 years but has not been looked at across the board in light of the impact digital transformation has had on the economy, policy and practice.

Of core concern is whether the exceptions in the Copyright Act are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment.

The Terms of Reference also expressly require the Commission to take into account the government's Convergence Review.

Professor Jill McKeough, Commissioner in charge of the ALRC's Inquiry into Copyright Law said “the Terms of Reference ask us to look at both the commercial and non-commercial spheres where copyright laws impact on creators, owners and users to ensure that Australia's economic and cultural development is supported by these laws. We have been asked to look at both the adequacy and appropriateness of exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act and to consider whether further exceptions are required.”

The ALRC will work towards releasing an Issues Paper in August 2012, and will call for submissions at that time. The ALRC is required to provide a Final Report with recommendations for reform by November 2013.

ALRC President Rosalind Croucher said “it is a complex and important area of law and we are looking forward to some robust debate and discussion during the course of this very important Inquiry. The ALRC will provide a variety of ways for the community to engage with us during this Inquiry.”

Additionally, the Attorney-General’s Department has announced a review of the exceptions to liability for circumventing access control technological protection measures (TPMs).

A number of reviews have been conducted since the provisions relating to TPMs were first introduced into the Copyright Act in 2001. The last of these reviews took place in 2006, although no outcomes have been reached. ®

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