Posts Tagged ‘reform’

Attorney-General on copyright reform DownUnder

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Yesterday, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, who has portfolio responsibility for copyright in Australia, gave an important speech at the opening of the Australian Digital Alliance forum.

Some things that caught my eye:

The Copyright Act is overly long, unnecessarily complex, often comically outdated and all too often, in its administration, pointlessly bureaucratic.

Can’t argue with that: s 195AZGF or s 135ZZZZA, anyone? So, we are going to embark on a process to reform copyright. Bearing in mind that the ALRC has just had its report tabled:

I remain to be persuaded that [adopting ‘fair use’] is the best direction for Australian law, but nevertheless I will bring an open and inquiring mind to the debate.

and

First, when this process is finished, and it will be a through and exhaustive exercise in law reform, the Copyright Act, will be shorter, simpler and easier to use and understand.

Secondly, the Act will be technology neutral – no more amusing references to videotapes as we find in current section 110AA.

Thirdly, we will pay careful regard to the broader international legal and economic context ….

In carrying out this work:

The challenge for us today is how to balance the benefits for creators against a range of other public interests including the interests of users, educators and other important public goods.

….

Nonetheless, the fundamental purpose of copyright remains unchanged – to ensure that those who take on the risks of creation are appropriately rewarded for their abilities and efforts.

On the subject of online piracy:

the High Court’s decision of 2012 in the iiNet casechanged the position. The Government will be considering possible mechanisms to provide a ‘legal incentive’ for an internet service provider to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks.

Options the Attorney identified for fixing this include ‘graduated response’, third party injunctions against ISPs or maybe just facilitating self-regulation.

Read the Attorney General’s speech in full.

Lid dip: Peter Clarke

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).

Copyright reform agenda

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The Commonwealth Attorney General’s opening address to the Blue Skies conference is here.

Some excerpts:

International reforms:

While recognising that the challenges of the digital era are a global, not just national, issue, the Attorney General identified access to cultural works by the visually impaired as an area for early action:

An example of one area in which I am particularly keen to see a result this year in the international arena is overcoming copyright barriers for visually impaired people in accessing copyright works in suitable formats. I understand that internationally, only five per cent of all works are available in accessible formats for the visually impaired.  This is an unacceptable statistic and an acute problem for developing countries.

If there were hisses and boos from the audience, let’s hope it was for the right reasons!

On the domestic front:

  • a straight bat played to yesterday’s iiNet decision
  • a consultation paper will be released soon on who should be the beneficiaries of the ‘safe harbour‘ regimes, currently limited to the indecipherable “carriage service providers

For example, the definition excludes entities that do not provide network access but provide online services – Google and Yahoo are obvious examples of this category.

(That is the Attorney General’s example, not mine.)

  • possible introduction of a new “ad hoc” exemption to the technological protection measures (see e.g. s 116AN(9))

The Copyright Advisory Group has approached me for an additional exception to allow circumvention of technological protection measures for certain education purposes.

In particular they have sought an exception that would allow schools to change the format of films from DVD to MP4 for teaching purposes.

It would seem that what is to be referred still involves considerable clarification. One area flagged:

I believe there would be merit in examining some exceptions under our law in the context of the online environment and whether the correct balance exists.

Another which the ALRC will not be allowed to cut across:

It will be important to not duplicate work undertaken by Government on various policy issues, or in the course of related reviews -for example the Government’s Convergence Review.

So, it seems the Convergence Review will not just be “regulatory”.

Lid dip: Jane Treleaven

IP Australia more 2nd round consultations

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

IP Australia has issued a second consultation paper – with draft drafting instructions:

  • Flexible Search and Examination
  • Streamlining the Patent Process

As with the first round of the second round, comments are required by 12 Feb 2010.

The new paper and drafting instructions can be found here (pdf).

Links to all the papers, pdf and word, via here.

2nd round consultations on IP reform in Australia

Friday, November 27th, 2009

IP Australia has published a second round of consultation paper (pdf) on its proposals for reform of intellectual property laws and procedures in Australia.

Topics covered include:

  • Getting the Balance Right
    Exemptions to Patent Infringement
    Resolving patent opposition proceedings faster
    Resolving trade mark opposition proceedings faster
    Resolving divisional applications faster
  • Getting the Balance Right
  • Exemptions to Patent Infringement
  • Resolving patent opposition proceedings faster
  • Resolving trade mark opposition proceedings faster
  • Resolving divisional applications faster

Submissions are due by 12 February 2010.

In a move definitely to be encouraged, the proposed drafting instructions have also been published (pdf) for comment.

(Links to the “Word” version as well as the pdf version and the previous round of consultation papers via here.)

Some further papers will be published soon on:

  • Flexible Search and Examination
  • Streamlining the Patent Process

IPRIA, parallel imports

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

IPRIA has organised a seminar in Melbourne on 15 September and Sydney on 16 September to discuss whether freeing parallel imports will make books cheaper.

Speakers include both Prof. Fels, who started it all, and Dr Rhonda Smith.

Details from here.

Has anyone established how far the prices of CDs and computer software fell once the markets for those products became open?

Patent and Trade Mark procedures in the Office

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

IP Australia has released 3 further consultation papers on “IP Rights Reforms”:

  • resolving divisional applications faster
  • resolving patent oppositions faster
  • resolving trade mark oppositions faster

Submissions are sought by 17 August 2009.

Download the papers (pdf or .doc) from here.

There are also links to the earlier papers on ‘Getting the Balance Right’ and ‘Exemptions to Patent Infringement’.

Copyright Agenda

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The Attorney General opened the Copyright Futures conference in Canberra yesterday.

As part of his speech he mentioned that last week he held a roundtable forum with ‘about 30 of the key representative groups’.

Wonder what that was about? According to the Attorney-General, some of the emerging themes were:

  • whether the Government would benefit from an independent source of advice in addition to my Department, especially for technology and competition issues 
  • access to justice considerations for individual creators and also the effectiveness of the Copyright Tribunal
  • addressing piracy in the online environment
  • the roles and responsibilities of declared collecting societies
  • whether there should be new rights for visual artists, indigenous creators  and audio-visual performers
  • the relationship between copyright and contract law, and
  • whether there should be new exceptions to allow greater access to copyright materials.

Then, he identified the Government’s agenda:

These include the issues of resale royalty legislation for visual artists and the review of restrictions on the parallel importation of books. 

I am also evaluating proposals on the use of internet material by educational institutions, the role of Internet Service Providers in relation to online infringements, and appropriate enforcement of intellectual property crimes.

There is also the push for Governments to consider how to enhance access to and re-use Government information.

(Of course, in the best traditions, the printed speech is followed by a copyright warning notice.)

The speech is online here.

Lessig on copyright reform

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Prof. Lessig has an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal outlining his ideas on what needs to be done to put copyright “right”.

Read it here.

Many owners of copyright no doubt will not agree.