The Australian Copyright Amendment Act 2006 was passed on 11 December 2006 as part of the Commonwealth Government’s copyright reforms in response to new challenges posed by emerging technologies and the growth of the digital environment.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has indicated that the new laws not only strengthen copyright owner’s rights but also provide consumers with certainty in using new technologies to legitimately copy material for private use.
Of particular relevance to the average consumer are the new provisions allowing individuals to convert books, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, sound recordings and videotapes into new formats when certain conditions are met. Under the new legislation, it is no longer a breach of copyright for a person to make a copy of an original work (such as a book or CD for example) if:
the person making the copy legitimately owns the original work;
the copy is made for that person’s private or domestic use;
the copy is in a different form from the original work;
the original work is not itself an infringing copy of another work; and
only one copy is made.
To attract the protection of the new provisions, it is essential that the copy be in a different format to the original work and that it be enjoyed in a private manner.
Therefore, it is no longer a breach of copyright in Australia to convert a track from your favourite CD into an MP3 file format, to burn a video movie onto a DVD or to scan the pages of a book onto your computer hard drive. Photocopying the book, copying the CD recording onto a blank CD or copying a DVD onto another DVD will still breach copyright. Copyright will also be breached where either the original or the copy is sold, hired, distributed, displayed, broadcast or caused to be heard in public. Lending the copy to a family or household member for private use is not a breach.
The new amendments recognise that new forms of technology, allowing quality copies of works to be created easily and efficiently, have already been embraced by the public. A range of actions commonly undertaken that were previously a breach of copyright are now legal.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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