Posts Tagged ‘Copyright’

ALRC’s Copyright and Digital Economy Issues Paper

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The ALRC has published an Issues Paper for its inquiry into Copyright and the Digital Economy.

In an attempt to provide some structure to the anticipated submissions, the Issues Paper propounds some 55 questions over a range of topics including:

  • should (maybe that should include “can”) Australia adopt a “fair use” exception (questions 52 – 53) – an earlier assessment by the CLRC (pdf – see p.7 for the recommendations);
  • is there a need for greater freedom for “transformative uses” such as ‘sampling’, ‘remixes’, and ‘mashups’ (questions 14 – 18)
  • to what extent should copying for private and domestic use be permitted more freely, including should Optus be able to provide its Optus TV Now service (questions 7 – 13);
  • orphan works (questions 23 & 24);
  • library and archive exceptions (questions 19 – 22);
  • data and text mining (questions 25 – 27);
  • educational institutions (questions 28 – 31);
  • Crown use (questions 32 – 34);
  • retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts (questions 35 – 39);
  • do the statutory licensing schemes work efficiently in the digital environment and are new licences needed (questions 40 – 44);
  • should there be any other free use exceptions and should any existing exceptions be done away with (questions 48 – 51);
  • to what extent should people be able to “contract out” of copyright exceptions (questions 54-55) – see what the CLRC thought (pdf).

The Issues Paper is available on the web, as a pdf, an ePub and also in rtf components. (So far as I can see, it does not appear to be available in “dead tree” form.)

Submissions are sought by 16 November 2012. The ALRC itself is required to report by November 2013.

If you are looking for an overview of what is already in place, the Australian Copyright Council’s take is here (pdf).

Apotex v Sanofi: the (un)implied licence

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

In addition to finding Sanofi’s patent infringed, the Full Court affirmed Jagot J’s conclusion that Apotex had no implied licence to reproduce the copyright in Sanofi’s product information documents (PID).

Before a (medicinal) drug can be offered for sale in Australia, it must be registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. One of the requirements for registration is the submission of a PID, describing the drug, what it can be used for and how and providing warnings about potential problems and risks.

Apotex argued that it was industry custom or usage for the suppliers of generic drugs simply to provide PID for their generic drugs in substantially the same terms as the originator’s PID. It provided evidence of many cases where this had happened, including a number of cases in which Sanofi’s generic arm had simply re-used a competitor’s original PID itself. This included:

13 drugs of which Sanofi-Aventis was the innovator and 22 generic versions of the same drug,
the top 10 drugs by value on the PBS and 62 generic versions of the same drug,
some eight drugs of which companies other than Sanofi-Aventis were the innovators and generic versions of those drugs of which Sanofi-Aventis was the issuer.

The TGA did not require PID submitted by generics to be in the same terms as the originator’s PID. If a generic’s PID was different in substance or terms, however, the TGA may require the generic to submit additional safety or efficacy data to support registration of its own formulation.

On the last day of trial, Sanofi was also allowed to introduce evidence showing that some generics did in fact prepare and register their own PIDs rather than just copy the originator’s PID.

In this state of affairs, the Full Court unanimously upheld Jagot J’s conclusion that the evidence of an implied licence was at best equivocal and so rejected the implication. (Keane CJ [80]-[81], Bennett and Nicholas JJ [98]-[208])

It is difficult to resist the impression that, if instead of being sober judges their Honours (at least Bennett and Nicholas JJ) were teenagers, the suggestion that a licence could be implied between parties who were not in any type of contractual or consensual relationship would have been met with:

rofl.

As to the public interest, Parliament was forced to intervene (at the legislative equivalent of the speed of light) and create yet another specific defence and, in due course, Jagot J found that Apotex could rely on it as a defence (for acts done after the amendment came into force).

So far, 2012 is not proving an easy year for those trying to claim they have an implied licence to protect themselves from infringement allegations.

Apotex Pty Ltd v Sanofi-Aventis Australia Pty Ltd (No 2) [2012] FCAFC 102

TPM exceptions review

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Following my post on the ALRC’s reference re exceptions in the digital environment, a couple of people kindly pointed out the Attorney General’s department is also conducting a review of the exceptions to technological protection measures.

A technological protection measure is … well, anyway, since the Sony v Stevens stuff up, the definition has been “fixed up” to close that gulf by adding access control technological protection measure as well.

Section 116AN provides for a number of exceptions – e.g. interoperability, encryption testing, security testing, online privacy, law enforcement and national security, libraries – and s 116AN(9) provides a regulation making power to create additional exceptions.

The existing “additional” exceptions are found in Schedule 10A of the Copyright Regulations.

The US Copyright Office is currently a large way through its 5th 3 year “ad hoc” rulemaking exercise for the counterpart arrangements under the US Act.

The review’s home page is here and the pdf of the issues paper is here.

Submissions about the exceptions should be in by 17 August 2012

Responses to those submissions should be in by 5 October 2012.

(Congratulations to the AGD for a sensible, structured approach to submissions which recognises that some people will definitely have something to say about what other people submit!)

Lid dip:

Alison Bradshaw

@ADA_ellenbroad

A few exercises in parody?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Gotye and Kimbra had that smash hit “Somebody I used to know“.

via Prof. Tushnet at the 43(B)log, there comes “The Star Wars I used to Know” (99USc or $1.69 in the Oz iTunes store).

Prof. Tushnet gives extra points for the artwork. I wonder about that, does it go too far? I guess there is that dig at the artwork too …

While we’re having fun:

Walk off the Earth did this theatrical cover of Gotye/Kimbra.

Then, in the Key of Awesome really took the sledgehammer to it.

Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) s 41A.

(see: it was IP related)

ALRC terms of reference finalised

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

The Government has announced the finalised terms of reference for the Australian Law Reform’s inquiry into copyright:

I refer to the ALRC for inquiry and report pursuant to subsection 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 the matter of whether the exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act 1968, are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment.

Amongst other things, the ALRC is to consider whether existing exceptions are appropriate and whether further exceptions should:

  • recognise fair use of copyright material;
  • allow  transformative, innovative and collaborative use of copyright materials to create and deliver new products and services of public benefit; and
  • allow appropriate access, use, interaction and production of copyright material online for social, private or domestic purposes.

As one might expect, the ALRC is directed not to duplicate work being undertaken by other inquiries and the like. It turns out that, amongst other things,  these include

not duplicate work being undertaken on: unauthorised distribution of copyright materials using peer to peer networks; the scope of the safe harbour scheme for ISPs; a review of exceptions in relation to technological protection measures; and increased access to copyright works for persons with a print disability.

Anyone know what that work is?

The ALRC is required to deliver its report by 30 November 2013.

Terms of reference here.

The price of digital downloads in Australia

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Apparently inspired by this report, Senator Conroy, the Orwellian named Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy,[1] has acted to announce a new inquiry to be undertaken by the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications.

Reports here and here.

According to that second report, someone trailed a coat on the issue last week when ACCC Commissioner Ed Willett appeared before the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network.

Now, as a purchaser of digital files, I am hardly unbiased but it does seem hard to justify price differentials of 50% or more. Seems like there is economic reasoning that challenges the Gerry Harvey-esque explanations.

Only problem, almost 20 years ago, the Prices Surveillance Authority recommended (what became in effect) this provision and some record companies got into big trouble trying to circumvent their own corresponding provision, but it would seem nothing has changed. Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice, reported here might be on to something suggesting the problem is the territorial nature of copyright itself. A (copyright) world without borders. Imagine!


  1. He is afterall the man who wants to impose filtering on the internet.  ↩

Roadshow: second look

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Now I’ve had some time to look at the Roadshow decision, I think it falls near the territory of the House of Lords’ Amstrad ruling but doesn’t go as far as the Supreme Court of Canada’s CCH Canada ruling.

The only issue before the High Court was whether or not iiNet (the ISP) was liable for authorising the infringements of copyright committed by 11 of its subscribers, who made available online various infringing copies of films through BitTorrent (even though it can be used for lawful purposes, I think I’ll let you go find your own copy if you’re so inclined). Given that iiNet had no role in BitTorrent, its subscribers’ choices to use BitTorrent or what they downloaded with BitTorrent, the film companies sought to put iiNet’s liability on the basis that (at [5]):

  • the provision by iiNet to its customers (and to other users of those customers’ accounts) of access to the internet, which can be used generally and, in particular, to access the BitTorrent system;
  • the infringement of the copyright in the appellants’ films by customers of iiNet who have made the films available online in whole or in part using the BitTorrent system;
  • the knowledge by iiNet of specific infringements, as drawn to its attention by notices from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (“AFACT”), representing the appellants;
  • the technical and contractual power of iiNet to terminate the provision of its services to customers infringing copyright; and
  • the failure by iiNet to take reasonable steps to warn identified infringing customers to cease their infringements and, if appropriate, to terminate the provision of its services to them. [1]

As you no doubt know by now, the High Court ruled unanimously that iiNet did not auhorise the infringements of the film companies’ copyrights.

The first thing to note is we’ve got those 2 teams giving separate judgments again: (French CJ, Crennan and Kiefel JJ; Gummow and Hayne JJ). Not quite sure where that is going although 2 members of team 1 will still be there after June 2013.

Next, all 5 judges agreed whether someone is liable for authorising is largely a question of fact to be determined in all the circumstances.

Then, despite what we had all thought since Moorhouse, all 5 judges agree that “authorise” does not mean “sanction, approve, countenance”. “Countenance” in particular includes connotations which ‘are remote from the reality of authorisation which the statute contemplates’ (at [68]) and go well beyond the ’core notion of “authorise”’ (at [125]).

Instead, in deciding whether or not there has been an authorisation all 5 judges directed attention to the 3 criteria specified in 101(1A) and 36(1A):

(a) the extent (if any) of the person’s power to prevent the doing of the act concerned;

(b) the nature of any relationship existing between the person and the person who did the act concerned;

(c) whether the person took any other reasonable steps to prevent or avoid the doing of the act, including whether the person complied with any relevant industry codes of practice.

All 5 judges recognise that the 3 s 101(1A) criteria are not exhaustive; they are the starting point (at [68]) and essential (at [135]), however, in this case at least they are the only criteria considered.

In applying these 3 factors, the 2 judgments reach pretty much the same conclusions:

(78) The extent of iiNet’s power was limited to an indirect power to prevent a customer’s primary infringement of the appellants’ films by terminating the contractual relationship between them. The information contained in the AFACT notices, as and when they were served, did not provide iiNet with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to individual customers containing threats to suspend or terminate those customers’ accounts. For these reasons, iiNet’s inactivity after receipt of the AFACT notices did not give rise to an inference of authorisation (by “countenancing” or otherwise) of any act of primary infringement by its customers.

(146) The present case is not one where the conduct of the respondent’s business was such that the primary infringements utilising BitTorrent were “bound” to happen in the sense apparent in Evans v E Hulton & Co Ltd[165], and discussed earlier in these reasons[166]. Further, iiNet only in an attenuated sense had power to “control” the primary infringements utilising BitTorrent. It was not unreasonable for iiNet to take the view that it need not act upon the incomplete allegations of primary infringements in the AFACT Notices without further investigation which it should not be required itself to undertake, at its peril of committing secondary infringement.

These conclusions, however, summarise the results of a very multi-faceted and many layered inquiry. Any “power” that iiNet had was too “indirect” or “attenuated” essentially because:

  • iiNet had no involvement in BitTorrent or a user’s choice to use BitTorrent or what the user used BitTorrent for;
  • unlike Grokster (pdf) and Kazaa, iiNet did not encourage its users to use BitTorrent or seek to profit specifically from their infringing use;
  • iiNet did have a contractual power to suspend or terminate an account for breach (including for copyright infringement) but:
    • its obligation was to provide internet access which could be used for non-infringing or infringing purposes, not just infringing purposes;
    • terminating an account would not stop the user just using a different account, possibly with a different ISP;
    • iiNet would be liable for breach of contract if it suspended or terminated a user in response to an allegation and it turned out the user was not in fact infringing copyright. [2]

A third consideration highlighted in both judgments was the inadequate notice of infringements given through the AFACT notices. Remember, in keeping with Gibbs J, [3] the film companies argued that iiNet had knowledge that its requirement that users not infringe copyright was being ignored.

It was accepted that iiNet knew that more than half of its user’s usage involved BitTorrent (although not all of that constituted infringements). (at [38], [92]; but iiNet was no different to any other ISP in that regard).

The film companies also sent iiNet on a weekly basis AFACT notices which purported to set out information about subscriber’s accounts that were being used to communicate infringing copies. By the trial, iiNet accepted that these AFACT notices did in fact identify infringements. There were, however, a number of problems.

Most importantly, when the notices were sent, there was no explanation of how they were prepared or how they worked (not that that would have made any difference to how iiNet would have treated them) [4]; it was only after discovery and provision of expert evidence that iiNet could understand them sufficiently to accept their veracity ([34] and [75], [138]).

This raises the question: what is iiNet’s situation now that it has had explained to it and accepted as reliable the AFACT notices? That seems rather less clear.

The ‘reasonableness’ of iiNet’s inaction was at least in part predicated on its lack of knowledge given the problems with the AFACT notices.

First, French CJ, Crennan and Kiefel JJ say at [69], however,  that there cannot be liability for authorisation without power to prevent the primary infringement and, as already noted, any such power is lacking or too indirect. Gummow and Hayne JJ do not make so explicit a statement (and their Honours endorse imposition of liability where infringement is “bound” to happen). Nonetheless, their Honours do at several points emphasise the presence or absence of control, or direct power to control, the primary infringement as key facts. For example, [127] and in contrast to Moorhouse at [144] from which iiNet’s situation was “well removed”.

Secondly, the High Court seemed very reluctant to leave iiNet with the burden of having to check back to see whether a particular user was still infringing particularly in circumstances where it would have been dependent on the use of the film companies’ technology to do so. So French CJ, Crennan and Kiefel JJ said:

(74) Whatever responses iiNet received to warnings, iiNet would be obliged to update the investigative exercise underlying the AFACT notices either itself or by reference to subsequent AFACT notices (allowing an appropriate interval for compliance with a request to cease infringement) before proceeding further.

(75) Updating the investigative exercise in the AFACT notices would require iiNet to understand and apply DtecNet’s methodology – which, among other things, involved a permission to DtecNet from AFACT to use the BitTorrent system to download the appellants’ films. Before the filing of experts’ reports in the proceedings, the information in the AFACT notices did not approximate the evidence which would be expected to be filed in civil proceedings in which interlocutory relief was sought by a copyright owner in respect of an allegation of copyright infringement. Also, any wrongful termination of a customer’s account could expose iiNet to risk of liability. These considerations highlight the danger to an ISP, which is neither a copyright owner nor a licensee, which terminates (or threatens to terminate) a customer’s internet service in the absence of any industry protocol binding on all ISPs, or any, even interim, curial assessment of relevant matters.[5]

Thirdly, both judgments refer with approval to the Blank Tapes case and the majority’s recognition there that manufacturers of products such as blank tapes and video recorders, which have both lawful and unlawful uses, will not be liable for authorising copyright infringement even if they know it is likely that their products will be used to commit infringements (at [53] and [130]).

Both judgments conclude with calls for the legislature and/or co-operative industry codes to deal with the challenges these issues pose. It had seemed that a co-operative industry code required the near death experience in the Full Federal Court for motivation, but at least the 5 major ISPs kept plugging away.

Finally, what is the status of Moorhouse itself? Here the difference with Amstrad and CCH Canadian comes clearest. The House of Lords plainly thought Moorhouse was a copyright liability too far and, as the Roadshow High Court interpreted the judgment, limited authorisation to cases where the defendant granted, or purported to grant, the primary infringer the right to do the infringing act. The Supreme Court of Canada went even further and held that a law library was not liable for authorising infringements by photocopying in largely similar circumstances to Moorhouse (if one can overlook any difference between a reference library for lawyers and a university library). In contrast, the Roadshow High Court explained that the University was liable in Moorhouse because of the extent of its control over the photocopier, the books and the primary infringer’s activities: the circumstances in Roadshow were “well removed” from those in which liability was imposed on the University (at [144], see also [69]). This approach may reflect the legislative codification of criteria from Gibbs J’s judgment, but it also reflects the way iiNet put its case (at [60] – [61]).

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16


  1. Slightly different formulation by Gummow and Hayne JJ at [142].  ?
  2. [66] – [70], [73]; [139] Gummow and Hayne JJ go so far as to point out that termination would deny the user access to the internet for non-infringing activities. Despite the criticisms directed at Higgins J’s opinion in Adelaide Corporation, all 5 judges appear to agree with his Honour’s view that a right to terminate a contract was wholly disproportionate (but, of course, there are all those other factors to, er, factor in). The Grokster / Kazaa point is made explicitly only by Gummow and Hayne JJ at [101]  ?
  3. See e.g. at [58] and at [14] in austlii’s online version of Moorhouse.  ?
  4. See the evidence recounted by Jagot J at [308] – [318] in the Full Court.  ?
  5. See also the summary of iiNet’s argument at [62] and Gummow and Hayne JJ at [138] – [139] and [143].  ?

Optus TV Now (no more)

Friday, April 27th, 2012

The Full Court (Finn, Emmett and Bennett JJ) has unanimously allowed the appeal from Rares J’s finding that Optus TV Now did not infringe the copyright held by the AFL, the NRL and Telstra in broadcasts (or films) of the footy.

Based on the summary, the Full Court has found that Optus either made the copies of the broadcast and films or Optus and the subscriber did so jointly.

As Optus was the (or a) maker, it could not rely on the “home taping” defence provided s 111 as the copy was hardly for “private and domestic use”.

This is, of course, the opposite result to that reached by the Second Circuit in the US in the Cartoon Network case in different legislative setting.

The second point would seem to follow necessarily from the first, but the first could render the protection of s 22(6) largely nugatory to those who carry transmissions of infringing material across their networks. The reasoning on this point will need closer consideration. Of course, Optus was storing the copy longer than may be the case of an ISP whose network is used to download some infringing material. Wonder what this provision means?

National Rugby League Investments Pty Limited v Singtel Optus Pty Ltd [2012] FCAFC 59

Lid dip Australian Copyright Council

Roadshow v iiNet

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The High Court has unanimously dismissed Roadshow’s appeal in the case against iiNet.

On a first look, there are some references suggesting that our law is being brought back in line with the UK (CBS v Amstrad) and Canada (CCH Canada v Law Society of Upper Canada). Consideration will have to await further review.

Although unanimous, there are 2 judgments: as in iceTV, French CJ, Crennan and Kiefel JJ in one and Gummow and Hayne JJ in the second.

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16

Acohs v Ucorp or the limits of implied licences

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Full Federal Court (Jacobson, Nicholas and Yates JJ) has largely upheld Jessup J’s ruling, but with a noteworthy limitation on the scope of implied licences.

Acohs and Ucorp both provide in competition with each other Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) which are required by law to identify the properties, uses and hazards of dangerous chemicals.

At first instance, Jessup J found Acohs owned copyright in the MSDSs which had been written by its employees, but not by employees of third parties. His Honour also held that copyright did not subsist in the HTML source code of the MSDSs in its collection: the employees who prepared the software to generate the source code were not collaborating with those who subsequently entered the data in the sense necessary to constitute a work of joint authorship.

The Full Court has upheld these conclusions.

Jessup J also held that Ucorp could claim the benefit of an implied licence which permitted it to reproduce the MSDSs in which Acohs held copyright.

Acohs did not challenge the existence of an implied licence on appeal (after all, it has the benefit of a similar implied licence arising from the earlier litigation against Bashford). There was, however, an important difference in this case.

Ucorp copied several thousand MSDSs each week. At least some of these were made in response to requests from customers who had the benefit of an implied licence from Acohs. The copies made by Ucorp in response to such requests were protected by the implied licence.

However, Ucorp also “trawled” the internet looking for any other MSDSs and, when it found ones it did not already have stored, it downloaded them so as to have them available if a customer came along with a request for one. As these were not made in response to a request, but rather in anticipation of a request (which might never be made), they fell outside the scope of the implied licence. The Full Court reasoned that the licence that would be implied could be the bare minimum necessary and it was only necessary that a licence be implied in favour of customers who placed a request with Ucorp for a copy. The “trawling” could not be sanctioned.

Thus, Ucorp will be found liable for infringing the copyright in all those MSDSs which it reproduced without a specific request from a customer before the copy was made.

Two additional points:

First, Bennett J has adopted a similarly strict approach to the scope of the “interoperability” defence for infringement of copyright in computer programs. ISI made software that enabled users of CA’s Datacom database system to convert to IBM’s DB2 system. Section 47D protects reproductions made (for the relevant interoperability purpose) by the owner or licensee of copyright in a computer program or someone acting on their behalf. Bennett J found that ISI was not acting “on behalf” of such licensees when it made reproductions of “macros” used in the Datacom system for its commercial 2BDDB2 program as they were not made in response to specific requests from customers before the reproduction was made: CA Inc v ISI (starts around [334]).

Secondly, the Full Court does not appear to have been too happy with the licence Merkel J implied in the original Acohs v RA Bashford litigation at [108]:

The apparent acceptance by the parties of the correctness of Bashford has important ramifications for this appeal. As the parties conducted both the trial before the primary judge and the present appeal on that basis, the occasion does not arise for us to proceed otherwise than in accordance with, and to the extent of, that acceptance. In so proceeding, we do not wish to be taken as endorsing the correctness of all aspects of that decision.

Perhaps, the new reference to the ALRC cannot come soon enough.

Acohs Pty Ltd v Ucorp Pty Ltd [2012] FCAFC 16