Australian Alliance and Critics Slams Copyright Amendments

In late October, the EFF posted a notice that talked about copyright reform in Australia. The bill is known as the Copyright (amendment) Bill 2006 (PDF).

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Some describe the copyright amendments as an import of a US style DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright act) that is being fast-tracked through the Australian parliament. Recently, the ADA (Australian Digital Alliance) made a press release that slammed the amendments, stating that there are no “fair use” provisions in Australian law like the US has.

The ADA describes itself: “The ADA is a coalition of public and private sector interests formed to promote balanced copyright law. ADA members include universities, software companies, libraries, schools, museums, galleries and individuals.”

The press release says, “If the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 is rushed through Parliament, then Australians will be the not-so-proud owners of a complex and inflexible copyright regime that’s out-of-date the day it becomes law. Despite what seemed like good intentions, the government has delivered a 200 page mess of changes, with no “fair use” flexibility that U.S. consumers and innovators depend on.”

Brian Fitzgerald commented on many aspects of the new bill. “Imagine a 14-year-old girl videoing herself lip-synching to her favourite pop tune and uploading this to a video sharing website like YouTube. This is an activity that copyright owners around the world are already saying is something that is against their interests.

Under the new regime the mere doing of this act has the real potential to lead to a significant fine and if it can be shown that such an act was accompanied by negligence or recklessness, the 14-year-old child could be in even more trouble.”

Weatherall’s blog provides information and opinion on the reform bill as well. One comment on the “fair use” issue contained, “Brian rightly points out that the law does nothing for the critics, the masher-uppers, the people who want to splice protected material into their creative new stuff. Correct. I think given the FTA this was pretty inevitable however.

I remain of the view that the dark horse of all of this will be the Departmental view on ad hoc exceptions.”

One expert claimed that under the new amendments, Google would effectively be “gagged.”

Many of these people appear to contradict what attorney general Philip Ruddock said on The Age, where he claimed that the new amendments would “make our laws fairer for consumers and tougher on copyright pirates.”

Only time will tell where things escalate from here, but one thing is for certain: there are many who disagree with the new bill.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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