Report released – Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions 22/07/2009

On 14 July 2009, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy, released the report ‘Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions’. The paper discusses how the government might “maximise the benefit of the digital economy for all Australians.”


The paper outlines the importance of the digital economy; Australia’s engagement with the digital economy; the need for strategic action; the requirements for a successful digital economy; the government’s role; and case studies of successful engagement with the digital economy from various industries.


The paper specifically discusses open access to public sector information for the benefit of the digital economy and signals a commitment by the federal government to “provide more open access to appropriate categories of public sector information”: at 14.


The paper also discusses the copyright safe harbour scheme which limits liability for copyright infringement by online service providers in certain circumstances, noting that the federal government will consider whether the scope of the scheme should be expanded: at 22.


The issue of file sharing and the impact on the content industry is discussed, with the government recognising that there is a public policy interest in resolving the issue and indicating a desire to work with all relevant groups to find an effective solution. The paper notes that the Australian economy “benefits from a sustainable content industry and from a general respect for legal rights” but also emphasises that “issues relating to due process and consumer privacy are important”: at 38.


The report also announces a forum, entitled “National Broadcasting Network: Realising the Vision”, to be held later in 2009 (we are not aware of further details at this stage): at 58.




Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions

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Restrictions on Parallel Importation of Books: Productivity Commission releases final report 16/07/2009

The Productivity Commission has released its final report on the parallel importation of books to Australia.


The final recommendations depart from the Commission's draft recommendations released on 20 March 2009, with the Commission now recommending that:


• the government repeal parallel import restrictions on books, but that the repeal should take effect three years after the date it is announced;

• the government should, as soon as possible, review subsidies that are currently aimed at encouraging Australian writing and publishing, with a view to better targeting the “cultural externalities” of the parallel importation provisions, and that any revised arrangements should be put in place before the provisions are repealed;

• the effect of the repeal of the provisions and of any revised subsidy arrangements should be monitored and assessed five years after implementation; and that

• to assist that assessment, the Australian Bureau of Statistics should undertake a revised version of its 2003-04 surveys of the books industry and market and then update these revised surveys prior to the commencement of the five year assessment.


The full report is available on the Productivity Commission website.




Final Productivity Commission Report on Parallel Importation of Books

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Blog, Podcast, Vodcast and Wiki Copyright Guide for Australia 19/04/2009

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation and Queensland University Faculty of Law have published 'Blog, Podcast, Vodcast and Wiki Copyright Guide for Australia'. The guide is available in printed form and online at:



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A user's Guide to the Flexible Dealing Provision for Libraries, Educational Institutions and Cultural Institutions 18/04/2009

The Australian Libraries Copyright Committee and the Australian Digital Alliance have published 'A user's Guide to the Flexible Dealing Provision for Libraries, Educational Institutions and Cultural Institutions: Section 200AB of the Copyright Act 1986 (Cth).


The guide is available in printed form, and online at:



More on section 200AB:


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Parallel importation of books: productivity commission releases discussion draft 04/04/2009

The Productivity Commission was requested to undertake a study on the current provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) that restrict the parallel importation of books published in Australia. In this discussion draft, the Productivity Commission examines the effects of the Act’s current restrictions on parallel imports of books and assesses whether these restrictions should be repealed or modified.


The Commission does not currently propose to recommend the abolition of parallel import restrictions. However, it considers that it would not be appropriate to retain the restrictions in their current form. Hence the Commission currently proposes recommending that:


  • the restrictions on parallel imports apply for only 12 months from the date of first publication of a book in Australia, rather than the full term of copyright;

  • to be eligible for protection in the first 12 months, commercial quantities of an Australian published edition must be made available within 30 days of the date of first publication overseas;

  • if a book subsequently becomes unavailable in Australia during the 12-month period, parallel importation would be freely permitted until local supply was re-established; and

  • booksellers be allowed to offer an aggregation service for individual import orders under the “single use” provisions.


The Commission notes that it does not see the proposed regime as being the end point of the progressive opening of the book market, and proposes that the outcomes of the new arrangements be reviewed five years after implementation.


The Commission intends to finalise its report by 13 May 2009, after further public consultation and input. The Commission will hold roundtables to this end in April 2009. Written submissions to the Productivity Commission are due no later than 17 April 2009.

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Digital Economy Future Directions Consultation Paper: consultation draft 03/04/2009

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has released the industry consultation draft of the Digital Economy Future Directions Consultation Paper.


The paper raises some issues that have copyright implications. These include:


  • Open Access to Public Sector Information (at page 3)

  • Copyright ‘Safe Harbours’ (at page 15)

  • Appropriate flexibility for digital technologies (page 17)


Questions relating to Public Service Information (PSI) to which the consultation paper invites response (at page 5) are:


  • What categories of Public Sector Information (PSI) are most useful to industry and other stakeholders to enable innovation and promote the digital economy?

  • What are priority issues that will facilitate the use of PSI?

  • If PSI is made open access, what are the best formats to enable and promote use and reuse?

  • If PSI is made open access, what licensing terms would best facilitate and promote its use and reuse?

  • Should licensing terms distinguish between commercial uses and non-commercial uses and reuses?

  • Are there other examples of innovative, online uses of PSI?

  • Is there any additional economic modelling or other evidence to show the benefit to Australia from open access of PSI?



Questions relating to the safe harbour provisions and copyright exceptions, to which the consultation paper seeks response, are (at page 18):


  • Should the existing copyright safe harbour scheme for carriage service providers be broadened?

  • Does Australia’s copyright law unreasonably inhibit the operation of basic and important internet services? If so, what are the nature of such problems and practical consequences? How should these be overcome?

  • Is there non-copyright legislation that is directly relevant to digital economy businesses that create uncertainty or barriers?



DBCDE is seeking input by COB 11 February 2009.




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