Brandis sits on digital copyright review until 2014

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has said the government will not respond to a review of the Copyright Act until next year, and is unlikely to adapt the law for the digital age.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has indicated the government is unlikely to adopt a flexible fair use regime for copyright in the digital world, despite the specific recommendation for such a clause from the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).

Last week the ALRC handed to the government its year-long report on proposed changes to the Copyright Act to adapt to the digital world. The review was commissioned by the former Labor government in August 2012, to look at potentially adjusting the way copyright works to be more flexible in how it is applied online.

Brandis has until February to table the report in Parliament, and on Thursday indicated that the government would respond to the report in 2014.

In Senate Question Time, Brandis revealed that the report recommends the introduction of a flexible fair-use exception as a defence against copyright infringment and has recommended reforming some existing exemptions and adding new exemptions. It has also recommended limiting remedies availble for copyright infringement for orphaned worked and reforming broadcasting exemptions.

But while the report has recommended major overhauls to the Copyright Act, Brandis has indicated he will side with the content industry in limiting changes to the Act.

"Without strong, robust copyright laws, they are at risk of being cheated of the fair compensation for their creativity, which is their due and the Australian government will continue to protect them," Brandis said.

"I want to reaffirm the government's commitment to the content industries. It is the government's strong view that the fundamental principles of intellectual property law, which protect the rights of content creators, have not changed merely because of the emergence of new media and new platforms.

Brandis said that the principles of intellectual property did not change with the invention of the internet.

"So in this changing digital world, the government's response to the ALRC report will be informed by the view that the rights of content owners and content creators ought not to be lessened and that they are entitled to continue to benefit from their intellectual property," he said.

Previously, Brandis had sought to re-establish roundtable negotiations with content owners, consumer groups, and ISPs to implement a system to crack down in online copyright infringement with a view to implement a three-strikes system. The last round of negotiations was in 2012, and had not been resurrected after iiNet refused to participate.

The Attorney-General's Department refused to confirm whether it had issued invitations to the ISPs asking them to take part in new negotiations. As of November, ZDNet understands that a number of ISPs had still not received an invitation from the government.

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