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Submission to the Copyright Modernisation Consultation 2018 (PDF, 223 KB, 4 July 2018)
The Science Party has a policy of replacing Australia's restrictive Fair Dealing copyright laws with broad Fair Use exceptions, to allow the use of copyrighted material for purposes such as indexing, commentary, satire and education.
Our submission to the consultation into copyright modernisation reflected this policy. Specifically, we argued for:
- broad Fair Use exceptions to replace narrow Fair Dealing rules;
- restrictions to "contracting out" of the standard Fair Use agreements, which allow content creators to restrict the contexts in which their work is used (i.e. to potentially disallow much of what Fair Use is used for);
- the legality of transforming a work purely for the purpose of accessing it, e.g. using text-to-speech;
- the introduction of a statutory exception for orphan works.
Improving our copyright rules is important for positioning Australia as a place to do business.
It's also prudent to show our willingness to push back against greater restrictions on using copyrighted material in the spirit of Fair Use. The European Parliament recently narrowly defeated (for now) a bill would have given music rights holders more power to prevent unauthorised sharing, but included multiple problematic aspects. One was that it would have been the responsibility of each member state to add exemptions "for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche" (i.e. parodies using copyrighted source material would have been by default illegal). Another was a requirement for not-for-profit research organisations to obtain a specific licence to capture data that is freely available online.
There are challenges in crafting copyright law to balance the rights of creators and users. However, the problem should be approached not with the aim to maximise monetary profits for rights holders in all cases, but to allow creators to reap fair rewards from their intellectual property while also liberally allowing the creation of new works upon old ones, to expand our collective bodies of knowledge and culture.