MEDIA RELEASE | 25 August 2017




The Government has today published its response to the Productivity Commission’s controversial Report on IP Arrangements in Australia. 

The Productivity Commission made a series of radical recommendations in relation to copyright, for example:

·         A US style ‘fair use’ exception which would broaden the unremunerated uses of copyright material in Australia;

·         Expansion of the safe harbour provisions to all online service providers;

·         Making contracts that restrict use of copyright exceptions unenforceable;

·         Making it clear that circumvention of geoblocking technology is not an infringement of copyright; and

·         Repealing parallel importation restrictions on books;

In its response, the Government has taken a more tempered approach to these issues.

The Government agrees in principle with a number of the Commission’s recommendations, such as those relating to consumer access to content and parallel importation restrictions for books. The Government will continue to work with industry to reach solutions for consumers.

Importantly, the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that Australia’s intellectual property systems provide appropriate incentives for innovation and the production of creative works, while ensuring that further innovation, competition, and access is not unreasonably impeded.

The Department of Communication and the Arts will be conducting a review of the Collecting Societies Code of Conduct, in conjunction with the ACCC.

Further consultations will be undertaken in relation to the hot topic of copyright exceptions. The Government noted the arguments that Australia’s exceptions are narrower in comparison to international counterparts, however also recognised that this is a complex issue that may be addressed by different approaches.

The Government will also be conducting further consultations on the issue of orphan works.

Finally, the Government will undertake additional consultation on the safe harbour scheme before considering the introduction of additional amendments. This consultation will be aimed at encouraging growth in Australia’s digital economy and ensuring a thriving and vibrant cultural sector, while respecting the interests of copyright owners.

Kate Haddock, Chair of the Australian Copyright Council welcomed the Government response and stated that the Council looked forward to working constructively with other stakeholders to address these issues.

“As the Copyright Amendment (Disability and Other Measures) Act proved, collaboration rather than confrontation is a much more effective path to policy development.”

Australian Copyright Council CEO, Fiona Phillips, agreed, stating that she looked forward to robust discussion on many of these matters at the forthcoming Copyright Law and Practice Symposium to be held in Sydney on 12 and 13 October (link).

The Government Response is available here.

Media Contact: Kate Haddock, Chair
(02) 9101 2377
[email protected]