The Australian Attorney-General has released its public
consultation paper regarding Online Copyright Infringement. The
consultation foreshadows significant amendments to the
Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) that have the potential to
significantly change the legal landscape for ISPs and online
content providers. Submissions are due 1 September 2014.
SCOPE OF CONSULTATION
According to a recent PwC study, online copyright infringement
poses a significant threat to Australia's copyright industries
which employs over 900,000 individuals, and generates considerable
economic income. Reducing online copyright infringement is key to
protecting the industry.
Whilst the AG's consultation paper recognises that there are
a number of factors that contribute to online copyright
infringement, including availability and affordability of content,
the paper is limited to the Australian Government's response to
the legal framework in relation to copyright infringement. It does
not touch upon the issues raised in the Australian Law Reform
Commission Inquiry into Copyright and the Digital Economy, or the
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and
Communications Inquiry into IT Pricing.
FORESHADOWED COPYRIGHT AMENDMENTS
The AG's consultation paper calls for submissions on whether
a similar approach to those taken in the United States, United
Kingdom and New Zealand, which includes implementing a notification
mechanism focused on educating users and penalising repeat
infringers, should be taken in Australia.
In particular, questions are raised as to the responsibility and
liability of ISPs, such as what constitutes 'reasonable
steps' that an ISP should take to prevent or avoid online
copyright infringement. This is a clear response to the recent High
Court decision of Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited
 HCA 16 where iiNet was found to not have authorised the
alleged online copyright infringement of its customers.
The paper also proposes an amendment to the safe harbour scheme
under section 116AA to 116AJ of the Copyright Act, which
currently limits the remedies against carriage service providers to
injunctive relief where authorisation liability is established and
the safe harbour conditions are met, by extending those remedies to
'service providers'. This would give content providers,
such as universities and online search engines, that do not fall
within the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) definition of
'carriage service provider' the ability to rely on the safe
harbour scheme, whereas currently they cannot.
The paper goes on to explore whether there should be greater
scope of injunctive relief for rights holders in compelling ISPs to
block access to internet sites operated outside of Australia whose
dominant purpose is copyright infringement, asks for submissions on
what impact any proposed amendments would have on business
including regulatory compliance costs and whether there are any
other approaches that may be more effective in combating online
SUBMISSIONS DUE SOON
Given the exceptionally short time-frame for response, all
interested parties should be quick to lodge their submissions.
Further details, including a copy of the consultation paper can be
found on the
We will keep you updated on any proposed amendments to the
Copyright Act as a result of the consultation process.
As a licensor or a licensee, here are some tips you should consider when negotiating your next licence agreement.
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