MPAA Wins: Australia To Carve Google And Facebook Out Of Its Expanded Safe Harbor Provisions
from the rights-for-only-some dept
Back in November, we discussed some reforms Australia was looking to make to its copyright laws. Chiefly at issue was how safe harbors were incorporated into the law, with those provisions applying only to primary service providers like ISPs due entirely to what appears to be a simple poor choice of words in the law. Under strict reading of the law as written, websites, libraries, and schools that allow internet users to create their own content and engage online would not be subject to safe harbor provisions, unlike the country’s American counterpart. The government initially signaled that it wanted to harmonize its law with EU and American law, before the lobbying dollars of the entertainment industry sprung into action, causing the government to walk this back a bit.
And, now, it seems that all it took was some meager conversation between government officials and industry representatives for safe harbors to be yanked away from the usual MPAA targets.
Shortly after the government embarked on a detailed consultation with entertainment industry groups. They accuse platforms like YouTube of exploiting safe harbor provisions in the US and Europe, which forces copyright holders into an expensive battle to have infringing content taken down. They do not want that in Australia and at least for now, they appear to have achieved their aims.
According to a report from AFR, the Australian government is set to introduce new legislation Wednesday which will expand safe harbors for some organizations but will exclude companies such as Google, Facebook, and similar platforms.
What should be immediately obvious is the complete lack of logic for this type of move. Either safe harbor provisions should filter down from the primary ISPs or they shouldn’t. Carving out exceptions to these important provisions, which serve primarily to increase expression and foster activity on the internet, strictly to some of the most popular platforms on that internet at the behest of movie-makers is the sort of thing that one struggles to describe as something other than purely the sale of national law to commercial interests. Oddly, the government has confirmed that safe harbor would apply to the afore-mentioned library, culture and archive spaces, just not to Google and Facebook, which arguably do as much as any other sites for culture and to archive information.
This action is also a useful data point for anyone to keep in mind when the entertainment industry discusses American and EU safe harbor provisions. It’s clear by this involvement with the laws of a sovereign nation that those groups hate safe harbor laws and would like nothing more than to do away with them entirely. Let’s all just keep that in mind whenever some mewing spokesperson for the entertainment industry wants to comment on our own safe harbor laws domestically.