On 12 June, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) hosted a roundtable at University of Technology Sydney on its forthcoming inquiry into copyright. The roundtable was chaired by Professor Jill McKeough, the Commissioner for the inquiry and a number of ALRC staff were in attendance.
The participants in the roundtable included representatives from copyright industries, collecting societies, law firms and academics.
While the roundtable was billed as a ‘discussion with the ALRC regarding the connection between media/IP law and relating convergence issues to copyright law reform possibilities’. There was some discussion about the implications of the Convergence Review, principally about the implications of the distinction between ‘broadcasting’ and ‘communication’ in broadcasting regulation and copyright regulation respectively, but the discussion covered a range of other issues surrounding the inquiry more generally.
The Attorney-General’s Department released draft terms of reference in late March, which attracted 61 submissions (the submissions haven’t yet been published). The final terms of reference have not yet been released.
The inquiry is likely to take the following course:
• Issues Paper (around mid August 2012);
• submissions on issues paper (about October 2012);
• Discussion Paper with proposed recommendations (about April 2013); and
• final report (November 2013).
Issues discussed at the roundtable included:
• the extent to which the inquiry might focus on new, rather than existing exceptions;
• the extent to which statutory licences might be considered;
• the relevance of the concept of ‘user rights’ (there was reference to the book ‘Copyright exceptions : the digital impact’ by Robert Burrell and Allison Coleman, published in 2005);
• how you characterise a use made without express permission: e.g. as an exception or as an implied licence;
• the relevance of similar recent inquiries overseas, such as the Hargreaves inquiry and subsequent review by the Intellectual Property Office in the UK, and the inquiry by the Copyright Review Committee in Ireland;
• the role of ‘evidence’ in the inquiry, and what form it might take;
• the relevance of government policies to reduce regulation, reflected in the Convergence Report and government process for assessing the regulatory efficiency of proposals for change;
• the concept of the ‘public domain’, and how it is somehow (wrongly) equated to public benefit;
• how you assess ‘public benefit’; and
• the importance of moral rights when looking at exceptions.