The report recommends the Government amend the Copyright Act (1968) to introduce a broad, principles-based fair use exception.
Universities Australia’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry advocated for this reform.
It was also recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2014 report into Copyright and the Digital Economy.
“If Australia is to remain competitive in the international education market, it is vital that we inject flexibility into our copyright law,” said Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson.
The report noted that recent analysis undertaken by Ernst & Young for the Australian Government concluded a broad US-style fair use exception would be a net benefit to Australia.
Australia’s current copyright exceptions are “too narrow and prescriptive, do not reflect the way people today consume and use content and do not readily accommodate new legitimate uses of copyright material,” the report stated.
The United States, Singapore, Israel, South Korea and Canada all have a fair use, or a fair dealing for education, exception. This allows universities and schools to use small amounts of content for educational purposes in ways that do not cause harm to rightsholders.
“The United States has had a fair use exception since 1976 and creative industries in that country are flourishing,” Ms Jackson said.
“There’s no reason Australian universities shouldn’t be on the same level playing field internationally.”
“The Productivity Commission’s recommendations are sensible and practical and will bring Australia’s intellectual property arrangements into the 21st century,” she said.
The report also recommends the Government expand the “safe harbour” provision to universities and schools.
UA calls on the government to introduce the Copyright Amendment (Disability and Other Measures) Bill into Parliament at the first opportunity, which would give effect to this recommendation.