Government acts to strengthen copyright changes

Government acts to strengthen copyright changes

The Australian government has dropped the extension of safe harbour provisions for online intermediaries from the Copyright Amendment Bill ahead of its introduction to federal parliament.

The change will see sites such as Facebook, Google and other online aggregators held accountable for copyright infringement by users, instead of essentially being granted exemption for live-streaming and other potential copyright breaches.

News Corp Australia director of corporate affairs and editorial management Campbell Reid said: “The government now needs to ensure that any proposals for amending the safe harbour scheme are evidence-based and fit for the times”.

Copyright infringement was brought to the forefront in February when Facebook users live-streamed a boxing event for which Foxtel – 50 per cent owned by News – had exclusive rights.

Safe harbour laws are in place in the US and have allowed aggregators free rein. Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling said that if Australia adopted similar laws it would “wreak havoc on Australia’s creative community”.

“There is room for improvement in copyright but let’s remember that Australia’s creative ecosystem produces books, songs, newspapers, movies and TV shows that we love,” Mr Sucking wrote in an opinion piece for NewsMediaWorks last week.

“These products are not free to produce, and neither should they be free to consume.”

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