Australian Copyright Industry Says Proposal To Bring In Fair Use Is 'Solution For Problem That Doesn't Exist'

from the what-planet-are-they-on? dept

A couple of months back, Techdirt wrote about Australia's proposals to shift from the current fair dealing approach to fair use as part of wide-ranging reform of copyright there. When something similar was mooted in the UK as part of what became the Hargreaves Review, it was shouted down by the copyright maximalists on the grounds that it would lead to widespread litigation. As Mike pointed out at the time, that's nonsense: the existence of a large body of US case law dealing with this area makes it much easier to bring in fair use without the need for its contours to be defined in the courts.

Well, guess what? The Australian copyright industry is using exactly the same logic to attack fair use, as this story in IT News reports:

The Australian Home Entertainment Distributor's Association (AHEDA) savaged the [Australian Law Reform Commission] in a submission paper rebutting a proposal to introduce fair use provisions to intellectual property laws.

The fair use proposal was outlined in a discussion paper the ALRC released last August.

AHEDA chief executive Simon Bush said a regime based on fair use would lead to an increase in piracy and require litigation to be defined.
As well as regurgitating the weak argument used in the UK two years ago, there's this incredible comment about fair use:
"It's a solution looking for a problem that doesn't exist," Bush said.
What, apart from the problem that people going about their daily lives typically infringe on copyright to the tune of millions of dollars each day? Or that startups are held back from creating new services and products involving online content for fear that they will get sued? Or the problem that scholars are worried they will be taken to court if they carry out text and data mining on academic papers? Apart from those problems, you mean?

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Filed Under: australia, copyright, fair use


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  1. identicon
    Matthew Sag, 9 Aug 2013 @ 7:10am

    Re: Australia, the US and Fair Use

    As an australian educated US copyright academic I feel I know a bit about this issue. Australia is different to the US in many ways, but less so than Louisiana is to California. Fair use began with judicial interpretation of the Statute of Anne in the early 1700's. It is a fundamentally english common law approach. It is just the the UK and the colonies lost their way about 100 years ago and began interpreting 'fair dealing' quite narrowly. Fair use will work in Australia, it will certainly work better than the current system. Fair use won't encourage copyright infringement, it will take away some of the easy pretexts people use to justify their infringement. If you want to know more, read The Fair Use Doctrine in the United States A Response to the Kernochan Report, by Gwen Hinze, Peter A. Jaszi and Matthew Sag (me) http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2298833

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