Friday, December 3, 2010

ACMA and the need for Copyright Reform

The recent ACMA report on the usage of the internet by Australian citizens also details uses of the internet other than entertainment and amusement – these are the uses that are put at risk from a three strikes or graduated response scheme [at pg 15]:

79% Communication – email, instant messaging, VOIP
61% General browsing/surfing
75% Research and information
35% Blogs and online communities
64% Banking and finance
28% Buying/selling/shopping
26% Interactive – enter competitions/register on website

The internet has clearly become a significant part of the everyday lives of Australians and while at this stage there has been no overt support for a three strikes policy one wonders sometimes if these politicians read their own research. The Greens have indicated a willingness to review the Copyright Act and the Australian Attorney General has also noted the need for reform. As the Australian Copyright Council reported in October of this year:

Under the heading “Cleaning Up Copyright”, the arts policy released by the Greens just prior to the recent election stated: “Our copyright system is struggling to keep pace with the times. A system that is meant to be about nurturing creativity by rewarding it is at risk of stifling such creativity in complexity. At the same time we need to recognise that copyright protects the intellectual property of an artist and provides an important income stream. We need a copyright structure which rewards creators while respecting fair use and avoiding administrative complexities. “There may be no need for wholesale change but it will certainly require political engagement for any kind of reform to take place.”

Lets hope that when it does come time for considering alternatives to the current system that the major parties do not head the same road as New Zealand and France with a three strikes scheme. Much of, what is now, everyday activities for Australians could be at risk if they take the short sighted path of a graduated response scheme. Reform is absolutely needed its just a matter of which direction they intend to take.

Further Reading
Australian Communications and Media Authority, Australia in the digital economy: the shift to the online environment (November 2010) <> at 1 December 2010

Australian Copyright Council, The Attorney General and the greens put copyright reform on the agenda <> (29 October 2010) at 1 December 2010

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