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Further consultation on copyright safe harbour legislation

The Turnbull Government will undertake further consultation with stakeholders on the extension of the safe harbour provisions of the Copyright Act prior to introducing legislation.

An expanded safe harbour regime would provide a useful mechanism for rights holders to have material that infringes their copyright removed from online service providers. An expanded regime would also ensure that service providers are not held responsible for the infringing actions of their users, provided they take reasonable steps to take down material that infringes copyright.

The extension of safe harbour to cover online service providers, not just internet service providers, has been the subject of inquiry and public debate for over a decade. Most recently, the issue has been examined through a Department of Communications consultation paper in 2014, exposure draft legislation in 2015/16, by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in 2016 and by the Productivity Commission in 2016/17.

The Government is proceeding carefully to ensure the legislation achieves its objectives. Undertaking these additional consultations will provide a further opportunity for matters of concern to be conveyed to the Government. The Government’s intention is to develop safe harbour legislation that encourages the growth of Australia’s digital economy, supports a thriving and vibrant creative sector, while supporting the interests of copyright holders.

The Turnbull Government is progressing significant reforms to Australian Copyright Law. These include legislating provisions to enable websites promoting piracy to be blocked and reforms currently before the Parliament to improve access to works for people with disabilities, reforms to educational licensing provisions and changes to improve the ability of libraries and archives to make preservation copies of materials and access unpublished works.

Dr Heather Smith PSM, Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts, will oversee a series of meetings and roundtable discussions with stakeholders on the proposed changes. The Department has been asked to provide advice to Government by early June 2017 to enable the Government to continue to progress the copyright reform process.

More information about Australian Copyright Law can be found at: www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/copyright