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A Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (Cth)
  • Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law

Executive Summary

The film company, Roadshow, the pay television company Foxtel, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and News Limited — as well as copyright industries — have been clamouring for new copyright powers and remedies. In the summer break, the Coalition Government has responded to such entreaties from its industry supporters and donors, with a new package of copyright laws and policies.

There has been significant debate over the proposals between the odd couple of Attorney-General George Brandis and the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull. There has been deep, philosophical differences between the two Ministers over the copyright agenda. The Attorney-General George Brandis has supported a model of copyright maximalism, with strong rights and remedies for the copyright empires in film, television, and publishing. He has shown little empathy for the information technology companies of the digital economy. The Attorney-General has been impatient to press ahead with a copyright regime. The Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has been somewhat more circumspect, recognising that there is a need to ensure that copyright laws do not adversely impact upon competition in the digital economy. The final proposal is a somewhat awkward compromise between the discipline-and-punish regime preferred by Brandis, and the responsive regulation model favoured by Turnbull.

In his new book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, Cory Doctorow has some sage advice for copyright owners:

Things that don’t make money:

• Complaining about piracy.

• Calling your customers thieves.

• Treating your customers like thieves.

In this context, the push by copyright owners and the Coalition Government to have a copyright crackdown may well be counter-productive to their interests.

This submission considers a number of key elements of the Coalition Government’s Copyright Crackdown. Part 1 examines the proposals in respect of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (Cth). Part 2 focuses upon the proposed Copyright Code. Part 3 considers the question of safe harbours for intermediaries. Part 4 examines the question of copyright exceptions – particularly looking at the proposal of the Australian Law Reform Commission for the introduction of a defence of fair use. Part 5 highlights the recommendations of the IT Pricing Inquiry and the Harper Competition Policy Review in respect of copyright law, consumer rights, and competition law.


Recommendation 1 The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (Cth) should be rejected by the Australian Parliament because it interferes with traditional freedoms and civil liberties, as well as an Open and a Free Internet.

Recommendation 2 In light of the copyright action by the Dallas Buyers Club, the Australian Parliament needs to address the relationship between copyright law, privacy law, and consumer rights. The Australian Parliament should legislate on the matter – rather than rely upon an ill-conceived Industry Copyright Code.

Recommendation 3 The Australian Parliament needs to update and modernise the safe harbour provisions in respect of Australia’s copyright laws.

Recommendation 4 The Australian Parliament should implement the Australian Law Reform Commission’s recommendations in respect of copyright exceptions.

Recommendation 5 The Australian Parliament should implement the recommendations of the IT Pricing Inquiry and the Harper Competition Review in respect of intellectual property, consumer rights, and competition policy.

  • Copyright Law,
  • SOPA,
  • Website-Blocking,
  • Censorship,
  • Free Speech,
  • Fair Use,
  • IT Pricing,
  • Competition
Publication Date
April 21, 2015
Citation Information
Matthew Rimmer. "A Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (Cth)" (2015)
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