ALRC’s Copyright and Digital Economy Issues Paper

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).

ALRC terms of reference finalised

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.

DGTEK v Digiteck II

For DGTEK v Digiteck I, see here.

Non-use

Lander J considered that the goods covered by Hills’ registration should be limited as a result of non-use for the statutory period of 3 continuous years under s 92.

One interesting point on this part of the case is that Bitek had sought removal of all goods in its original application for removal. It accepted that evidence filed by Hills showed use in relation to some goods. Hills argued therefore the non-use application must fail since the application was directed to all goods.

Lander J rejected that argument:

[279] Because Bitek was seeking to remove “all of the goods” for non-use, Hills submitted that it was required to rebut the allegation of non-use of all of those goods. Hills argued that the evidence demonstrated use of the DGTEC trade mark in respect of several products including televisions, DVD players, CD players, decoders and cameras. On this basis, it argued that the application should be dismissed.
[280] In the alternative, Hills argued that Bitek could not alter its position or limit its application as an application for removal under s 92(2) is required to be in an approved form: reg 9.1 of the Regulations. The only application for removal in approved form is the initial application in which Bitek seeks to remove “all of the goods” in respect of which the trade mark is registered.
[281] Hills also said that Bitek should not be allowed to limit its application because to do so would lead to a denial of procedural fairness. …

Following a review of the cases, Lander J rejected these arguments:

[295] Hills’ argument that if the Court considered Bitek’s argument that the class of goods should be narrowed would result in a denial of procedural fairness should be rejected. Bitek’s concession means that it cannot have the relief it sought in the application but in seeking to argue that it is entitled to have the restricted relief it is thereby narrowing the scope of the inquiry. In those circumstances it could not be a denial of procedural fairness to allow the matter to proceed by reference to a narrower class of goods.

[296] I also reject Hills’ submission that the application must fail because there is evidence of use of some of its goods. I accept Bitek’s argument that the Court may exercise its discretion under s 101(2) to narrow the scope of the registration where the applicant establishes that a ground exists in relation to only some of the goods to which the application relates.

The power to excise some, but not all goods, was consistent with the policy of Part 9: to ensure that Register (and freedom to trade) was not cluttered with unused marks: [304] and consistent with the terms of s 101(2).

Lander J then refused to exercise a discretion against non-removal, apparently on the basis that any reputation that had been generated in respect of the goods on which there had been use did not spill over on to the goods for which there had not been use:

Bitek submitted that s 101(3) does not save Hills’ registration because there is no evidence of use of similar or closely related goods. The only evidence of use relates to a limited group of products which Bitek mainly excluded from its application for removal.

[316] In my opinion, Hills’ argument should be rejected. The fact that it has used its mark in respect of goods which are similar to those goods marketed by Bitek is not in my opinion to the point.

[317] The circumstance which is addressed in s 101(4) is whether Hills has used the mark in respect of similar goods to those to which the application relates. In Hills’ case it has not used the goods except in relation to set-top boxes, remote controls, digital video recorders with hard drive, televisions, CD and MP3 players, DVD players, micro sound systems, iPod docking speakers and web-based cameras. I do not think there is any evidence to suggest any use of any similar goods to those proved used by Hills which ought to be retained in the statement of goods.

Perhaps rather surprisingly given the finding of non-use in respect of some products, Lander J considered Hills’ specification of goods should be amended to read:

Digital and electronic products including set top boxes, remote controls, digital video recorders with hard drive, televisions, CD and MP3 players, DVD players, micro sound systems, iPod docking speakers and web-based cameras. (my emphasis)

Infringement

Lander J accepted he was bound be the decision in Gallo that removal of a mark for non-use operated only from the date of removal of the mark from the Register.

Bitech admitted it had used DIGITECH since 2003 in respect ofantennas, cables (including speaker, coaxial, data and security), plasma TV brackets, leads, AV switch selectors, connectors, wall plates of various types, splitters, TV mounting hardware, video senders, video intercoms, industry tools, remote controls, multi-switches, set-top boxes, cable ties and cable clips.

Ultimately, his Honour found that Bitek infringed by reason of its use on set-top boxes and remote controls, but not the other products.

Consistently with his Honour’s earlier findings, DIGITECH was of course deceptively similar to DGTECH. Apart from set-top boxes and remote controls, the goods for which Bitek had used its trade mark were either covered by its own (now) registration (s 122(1)(fa)) – and all use had been after the application date – or were not shown to be within the scope of Hills’ registration or goods of the same description. S 120(3) also could not be invoked as Hills’ trade mark was not well-known.

Hills Industries Limited v Bitek Pty Ltd [2011] FCA 94