Australia’s been an interesting country to follow on the copyright front.
In terms of court decisions, there have been some good ones and some awful ones. On the lawmaking front, we’ve seen ridiculous ideas floated and good ones as well. The current regime is, unfortunately, supporting some of the bad parts of the TPP, but the Australian Parliament has argued forrejecting ACTA. All in all, it’s a mixed bag.
However, Australia is about to undergo a copyright reform process, with the Australian Law Reform Commission focusing on how copyright reform should work in the digital economy, and releasing a very encouraging set of questions that it is seeking to answer as a part of the process. Unlike the typical “and just how awesome is copyright?” type of questions we see in some other places, the ALRC’s questions raise many of the key issues — noting that copyright law absolutely has an impact on the introduction of new and innovative business models and that it “imposes unnecessary costs or inefficiencies on creators or those wanting to access or make use of copyright material.”
Furthermore, it has some specifics that show whoever put together the questions has a pretty deep understanding of some of the key upcoming issues, including how copyright law should handle things like caching and cloud computing. There’s a push among copyright holders to change or clarify laws to say that temporary or cached copies can violate copyright, but that that leads to some serious problems for all sorts of online activities. Some of the ALRC’s questions show a recognition of the potential problem:
Question 3. What kinds of internet-related functions, for example caching and indexing, are being impeded by Australia’s copyright law?
Question 4. Should the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be amended to provide for one or more exceptions for the use of copyright material for caching, indexing or other uses related to the functioning of the internet? If so, how should such exceptions be framed?
Question 5. Is Australian copyright law impeding the development or delivery of cloud computing services?
Question 6. Should exceptions in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be amended, or new exceptions created, to account for new cloud computing services, and if so, how?
There’s also a whole series of questions looking at how private copying should be dealt with, as well as “online use for social, private or domestic purposes.” A few more of the questions:
Question 7. Should the copying of legally acquired copyright material, including broadcast material, for private and domestic use be more freely permitted?
Question 11. How are copyright materials being used for social, private or domestic purposes—for example, in social networking contexts?
Question 12. Should some online uses of copyright materials for social, private or domestic purposes be more freely permitted? Should the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be amended to provide that such use of copyright materials does not constitute an infringement of copyright? If so, how should such an exception be framed?
The questions even specifically call out how samples, remixes and mashups should be handled. I doubt that the majority of US politicians even know what any of those three things are.
via Techdirt – Mike Masnick
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