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Major reform to copyright safe harbour legislation

The Turnbull Government will today introduce the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017 to extend the safe harbour provisions in the Copyright Act to the disability, education, library, archive and cultural sectors.

This represents the first step taken to significantly reform safe harbour legislation after more than 10 years of debate and multiple reviews.

The measures in the Bill will ensure these sectors are protected from legal liability where they can demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to deal with copyright infringement by users of their online platforms.

Extending the safe harbour scheme in this way will provide greater certainty to institutions in these sectors and enhance their ability to provide more innovative and creative services for all Australians.

The changes will also give copyright owners tools to work with these sectors to prevent copyright infringement by their users.

The Bill builds on the important reforms that the Government has already introduced with the passage of the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and other Measures) Act 2017. The scope of the disability, education and cultural sectors within that Act was defined through significant consultation in 2016. An exposure draft of that Bill included safe harbour provisions, which were separated out to enable an intense period of further detailed consultation.

The measures in the Bill initially extend the application of the existing safe harbour scheme to sectors that provide beneficial services to all Australians and who are working collaboratively with copyright owners to address infringement.

The Government will continue to work with stakeholders on reforms to the safe harbour scheme to ensure it is fit for purpose and reflective of world’s best practice, before looking to apply it to other online service providers.

In so doing, the Government will be mindful of the need to ensure the rights of creators are properly protected. Australia’s copyright framework ensures that creators can receive a fair return for their work. Australia’s copyright industries make a significant contribution to our economic and cultural life, including collectively generating approximately $122.8 billion in economic activity, $6.5 billion in exports and employing more than 1 million Australians.

Media contact:

Geraldine Mitchell | 0407 280 476 | Geraldine.Mitchell [at] communications.gov.au