Safe harbour reforms a welcome interim measure

The Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) welcomes the proposed amendments in the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill tabled yesterday as an initial step towards reform of Australia’s copyright safe harbours.

“By extending the copyright safe harbour system to the disability, education, library, archive and cultural sectors, Australia’s schools, universities, libraries and archives will finally have the same legal certainty and protection as commercial ISPs,” said Jessica Coates, Executive Officer of the ADA. “This will be of great benefit to these sectors, and will give them greater certainty as important online service providers for the Australian community.”

However, we are disappointed that Australia’s tech innovators have been left out in the cold.

“It’s the startups that have chosen to make Australia their home who will be hurt by the decision not to include all service providers in the amendments. They are competing with companies operating in the global market who have safe harbour protections in their home jurisdictions,” Ms Coates said.

“These partial amendments mean that Australia still won’t have a modern scheme which provides protection for our online innovators in return for their assistance in fighting piracy. And Australian creators still won't have a simple, uniform system for having infringing material taken down without the need to hire a lawyer. Our system will remain unnecessarily complex and costly, and our technology companies will still be working at a disadvantage to their international peers.”

The Government has indicated that these amendments are the first step in an ongoing process of reviewing and updating the safe harbour scheme. The Australian Digital Alliance and its members look forward to working with the government on these ongoing reforms, to ensure our safe harbours truly reflect world’s best practice for all Australian online service providers.

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