Friday 12 June 2015

Australia's Copyright Amendment Bill moves forward

The new Australian copyright amendment bill, The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) 2015 bill, has been approved by the Australian Senate's Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee and will now be submitted to the House of Representatives in Canberra, Australia later this week.  When passed, the new law will allow rights-holders to request injunctions in the Australian Federal court to block access to overseas websites and  will underpin the creation of a code of conduct which ISPs must adhere to in order to reduce online infringement. The Senate Committee endorsed the bill, after submitting a report acknowledging the impact that copyright infringement has on the country's creative industries. The Committee did not clarify whether virtual private networks (VPNs), which have legitimate uses, would be immune from being blocked under the regime.

Although telecommunication companies have expressed concern over who will be paying the financial costs associated with blocking infringing website (and any legal proceedings that may arise after a website or a business gets erroneously blocked) the Bill is not expected to face major opposition or amendment before it is passed ito law. Four amendments were made to the initial draft, which is supported by both the Labour party and the ruling Coalition, although the Greens have objected to the Bill and in a dissenting report the Green's Senator Ludlum said the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 was the "latest in a long line of misguided attempts by the government to monitor, control and censor the internet".

Communications Alliance chief executive officer John Stanton said the government should carry through on its earlier commitments concerning costs requiring that "Rights holders would be required to meet any reasonable costs associated with an ISP giving effect to an order [to block a website]...' " 

The effectiveness of the new regime would be reviewed after two years of operation. and

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