Simpsons Solicitors

The Attorney-General Robert McClelland flags developments in copyright law in 2011

March 10th 2011

In his opening address to the Blue Sky Conference on future directions in copyright law on Friday 25 February, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, announced several areas of copyright law that the government may seek to reform over the next year.

The AG identified the following areas as being in need of attention:

– In the international arena, overcoming barriers for visually impaired people in accessing copyright works in suitable formats, given that only around 5% of all works are available in such formats;

– Domestically, McClelland noted the iiNet decision, which the government will review, and consider any policy implications that arise as a result. He also flagged possible legislative intervention to address the problem of unauthorised file sharing;

– The safe harbour scheme and its relationship with authorisation liablity, and whether the scheme should be amended in the wake of Roadshow v iiNet;

– Also in respect of the safe harbour scheme, the government will consider broadening the definition of Carriage Service Provider under the Telecommunications Act 1997 to include entities that provide online services but do not provide access to the internet as such. This would give Google, Yahoo and the like the benefit of the safe harbour schemes. A consultation paper will soon be released by the Attorney-General’s department;

– Technological Protection Mechanisms. The government may provide additional exceptions to the unauthorised circumvention of TPMs. The Copyright Advisory Group seek additional exceptions for education purposes, such as allowing schools to convert films from DVD to MP4 for teaching purposes. The department will soon be seeking submissions on this issue;

– Australian Law Reform Commission reference on copyright. McClelland intends to provide the ALRC with a reference on copyright later in the year, provided it did not duplicate work already being done by other areas of government, such as the Department of Broadband’s Convergence Review.

For advice on matters of copyright, or any other intellectual property (IP) matter, please contact Adam Simpson.