Copyright changes on cards despite music industry criticism

The Attorney-General's office has started preparing a discussion paper to set parameters for the review of the Australian Copyright Act which may see consumers who have purchased movies or music legally able to transfer them to other media. A spokesperson for the Attorney-General told ZDNet Australia that the government was preparing a discussion paper on the issue which would be released at some point this year.

The Attorney-General's office has started preparing a discussion paper to set parameters for the review of the Australian Copyright Act which may see consumers who have purchased movies or music legally able to transfer them to other media.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General told ZDNet Australia that the government was preparing a discussion paper on the issue which would be released at some point this year.

The discussion paper will set the parameters of the review regarding the inclusion of the so-called fair use clause, which would enact a change allowing consumers to freely copy their movies, music and photographs from one medium to another as long as it's for private use alone.

"We are committed to properly considering whether the principle of the fair use act should be added to the Australian Copyright Act. We are currently formulating the terms and scope of the review," she said.

The announcement of a possible review of Australia's copyright law has received mixed reactions from different sectors, with the Australian Consumers Association welcoming consideration of the fair use clause.

The review will also examine ways of compensating owners of the copyright through some sort of levy system similar to the one being used in Canada.

However, Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) outgoing chief Michael Speck believes that it is "highly unlikely" that the 'fair use' clause will be implemented in Australia. Speck said consumers already have ways to purchase their products through different means.

"Consumers can buy music online or buy a disc to use. It's two different species of products in the market place. It allows customers to have their cake and eat it too. They really can't complain," Speck said.

Speck also lashed out at the ACA's statement, saying that the organisation does not represent the Australian consumers' view since they only have less than 500 members and that they should just "stick to testing washing machines."

Music analyst Phil Tripp, on the other hand, believes that the copyright change is "long overdue." Tripp has been lobbying for close to two years now to see the laws changed in order to "incorporate the rights of Australian consumers as well as reinforce payment to composers and artists as a pay off".

"I think fair use of music in particular is a critical issue that record companies and the self-serving industry can no longer justify fighting futilely," Tripp said.

"I applaud the government in seeing the need to see the copyright law changed for the benefit of consumers," he said.

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