Thursday, October 11, 2012

Australian Digital Alliance

I have never really taken much notice of the Australian Digital Alliance, for some reason I thought they were just another Record Label/Movie Studio lobby group with vested interests. Turns out I might have been wrong.

I have been reading articles recently about two new reports they have released in which they indicate that wider exceptions to Copyright Law in Australia, along with stronger safe harbour provisions, would actually increase the Australian economy by $600 million. They write:

Australia needs a more flexible and technology neutral copyright regime to meet the digital reality of the 21st century and the evolving needs of society. Currently Australia's outdated copyright laws condemn online services such as web hosts, search engines and social media to a less conducive innovation and investment environment than in comparable countries, and restricts uptake of innovative online activities.

In the snap-shot of the reports, they suggest that there are three things holding Australia back;
1. The risks and costs associated with legal challenges
2. The impacts of these risks on investments
3. Potential impacts on innovation.

With respect to the later of these in particular, they write:

With inadequate and inflexible copyright ‘exceptions’ and with safe harbour protections extending only to carriage providers there is substantially more risk to online services in Australia than in comparable countries. The economic contribution possible under a more flexible regime is shown by the success of companies such as Apple, Facebook and YouTube. However in Australia, as the Lateral Economics reports demonstrate, these businesses are exposed to greater risk of liability for copyright violations. This means that Australia is not a natural home for innovation and it reduces our ability to compete globally.

I highly recommend taking a look at these reports and reading the reasons why Australia needs Copyright Law reform - indeed it is fascinating to consider the wealth that can be derived from exceptions to infringement.

While you are there, I also suggest you take a look at the website of the Australian Digital Alliance. It turns out it was started by former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Anthony Mason, in 1998. It was great to read their Positions on Key Copyright Issues. They have formal positions on:
  1. Orphan works - for fair and reasonable use, a wide definition, an exception not a licensing mechanism
  2. TPP - against secret negotiations outside WIPO and the WTO and for transparency and participation
  3. TPMs - for exceptions to allow for fair dealing/fair use
  4. Safe Harbours - support amending the law to protect all online services providers including universities, libraries, schools and cultural institutions, as well as IT companies
  5. Fair Use - support a broad doctrine as per that in the USA
  6. Contract Law - support a change to the law to ensure copyright exceptions are preserved
  7. SCCR exceptions - for education, archives and libraries, visually impaired enshrined in treaties
  8. Neutral language and consumer copying - support technologically neutral language in the Copyright Act and broad time shifting exceptions, particularly for cloud computing and services such as Optus "TV Now"
  9. Unauthorised file sharing - do not support unauthorised file sharing but nor do they support policies that result in the disconnection of a users internet access or holding intermediaries liable. 
It is without a doubt enlightening and very refreshing to see an organisation in this country that is specificially dedicated to reform of Copyright Law that also has strong policy positions. I agree with all of these except the last one - as you know I am in support of voluntary collective licensing for file sharing. However all of these policy positions are well reasoned and supportive of innovation, creativity and freedom of speech. I for one have signed up to their mailing list and I recommend you do to. Great Scott!

Further Reading
Australian Digital Alliance, Potential $600m annual economic boost from copyright reform (September 2012) < > at 11 October 2012

Australian Digital Alliance, Snapshot - Lateral Economics Copyright Research (September 2012) < >  at 11 October 2012

EFF Deeplinks, New Study Affirms Less Copyright Restrictions Benefit the Economy, Amid Renewed Calls for SOPA 2.0 (21 September 2012) < > at 11 October 2012

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