This bill removes barriers to providing works in accessible formats to people with print and vision disabilities, fulfilling Australia’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty.
It also updates and simplifies copyright licences that allow universities and educational institutions to use copyright material in return for payments to rights holders, without affecting the interests of copyright holders.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said this was an important advance.
“These changes respect the interests of copyright holders, while removing archaic provisions that currently impede universities from using copyright materials in the digital era,” she said.
“It will give flexibility for universities and copyright collecting agencies to negotiate agreements that aren’t constrained by 30-40 pages of outdated, technology-specific rules that are no longer relevant in the internet age.”
The changes reflect proposals brought to Government by universities, schools, libraries, cultural institutions, rights holders and collecting societies alike.
Universities Australia also congratulates the Government for continuing its program of copyright reform after further stakeholder consultation on extending ‘safe harbour’ protections for universities and others.
This important reform was removed from the CADAOM Bill bill prior to its introduction into parliament.
Safe harbours provide a simple anti-piracy system that gives copyright holders an efficient way to get infringing content removed.
Currently, institutions like universities and schools that work for the public benefit are not included in the safe harbour scheme.
Australian universities provide email accounts and internet access to over a million students and staff for educational purposes.
Yet universities have no protection against being sued if a student posts materials that infringe copyright – even where the university moves swiftly to remove the content.
Universities Australia looks forward to seeing further reforms enacted in the near future, to give universities the same sort of ‘safe harbours’ protections as companies like Telstra and Optus.