One year after releasing an Issues Paper on Fair Use exceptions for Australia, the Attorney-General has announced proposed changes to the current law. A draft exposure Bill will be released in the near future to enable consultation with stakeholders.
Essentially there will be a broadening of specific exceptions to copyright breaches, without adopting USA's general fair use scheme (which puts proof on a user to show "fair use"). (See Kim Weatherall for more detail)
According to the Attorney-General , the changes will, for the first time:
• Make it legal for people to tape a TV or radio program to view or listen to once at a later time (known as ‘time-shifting’). This exception will not allow a recording to be used over and over again or to be distributed by others.
• permit a person who has purchased a legitimate copy of some categories of copyright material to make a copy in a different format. In particular, this exception will allow individuals to store their personal music collection recorded on CDs, audio tapes or vinyl records in the memory of an MP3 player or home entertainment personal computer. It will also allow people to scan an article from a newspaper they have purchased to save on their computer (although they will not be able to upload it onto the internet). People also will be able to dub their old VHS cassettes onto a DVD.
• Provide new exceptions allowing schools, universities, libraries and other cultural institutions to use copyright material for non-commercial purposes
• Provide new exceptions for people with disabilities to allow access to copyright materials
• Allow the use of copyright material for parody or satire
• Provide new enforcement measures to combat copyright piracy including on-the-spot fines, proceeds of crime remedies, a change in presumptions in litigation to make it easier to establish copyright piracy.
The Bill will also :
* extend the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal,
* repeal the legislative cap on the fees paid by radio broadcasters for playing sound recordings, and
* create new offences for pay TV piracy.
There will be separate legislation this year dealing with Australia’s remaining obligations under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement concerning the liability regime for circumvention of technological protection measures.
The Government will monitor the implementation of the scope of the format shifting exception to review in two years’ time, whether the scope can be expanded to digital audio-visual materials (eg DVD's, computer games) in a way which complies with our international obligations.
Amendments also will be made as a result of the Government’s review of the 2001 Digital Agenda copyright reforms.
The Government will introduce a range of new measures to tackle piracy. These measures will support Australian and international creators and distributors, including small businesses such as cinema operators and video shops.
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Posted 15th May 2006
by David Jacobson