Government proposes to update Australian copyright laws

October 2011

Contacts

By Kasia Dyjak and Jillianne Nguyen

On 14 October 2011, the Attorney General released a consultation paper proposing to broaden the scope of the 'safe harbour scheme' contained in the Copyright Act 1986 (Cth). The scheme aims to encourage cooperation between Carriage Service Providers (CSPs) and copyright owners in deterring copyright infringement on the CSPs' networks.

The consultation paper can be found here.

The current scope of the safe harbour scheme

The current safe harbour scheme, introduced into the Copyright Act in 2006, provides CSPs with protection from some remedies being granted against them for copyright infringement, provided certain conditions are satisfied. The scheme is limited in its application in that it is restricted to CSPs as defined under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth). In practice, it means that the scheme is only available to those that provide network access to the public, thereby excluding organisations or businesses that provide internet access to limited groups (as opposed to the public), or businesses that provide online services rather than network access.

The proposed amendments  

The Attorney-General's Department is proposing to extend the application of the safe harbour scheme to a broader range of service providers. The proposed amendments are aimed at bringing the scope of the scheme in line with technological developments and with equivalent schemes implemented in other jurisdictions such as the United States.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit comments regarding the proposed amendments by 22 November 2011.