All jurisdictions

Judgment by the Full Federal Court is due in the Cooper litigation (first instance judgment here; commentary here, here, here, here) on Monday.  Cooper deals with issues of authorisation of copyright infringement by an ISP, and by a website that linked to infringing MP3 files.

It’s a biggie, in Australian copyright law terms.  When, exactly, does one ‘authorise’ copyright infringement online?  How current is Moorhouse now?  What do all those Digital Agenda Act provisions really mean?  Plus some cross-jurisdictional issues thrown in for fun… and unlike the Kazaa case, this one didn’t settle to the disappointment of IP academics all over the country.

What a lovely (!) Xmas prezzie from the Full Federal Court.

(hat tip for the alert: Starkoff)

[Note: the TPM part of this post has been updated, 15 December 2006]

So, let’s see:

  1. Australia has passed a copyright amendment bill, with lots of changes, particularly digital ones;
  2. The UK has the Gowers Review Report, newly released – with various proposed changes for consideration;
  3. Canada is still waiting, and … (wait for it, wait for it)
  4. Now New Zealand has its own Bill! (big pdf here, text version here)

Guess those Canadians drafting their Bill will be looking at all this with interest.

But let’s have a quick squiz at the new kid on the block, the Copyright (New Technologies and Performers’ Rights) Amendment Bill 2006 (New Zealand).

So what does it do?

Well, for an international audience, it does the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty – plus some stuff on exceptions reflecting the current debate over private copying. For an Australian audience, it basically does the Digital Agenda stuff, plus a bit of stuff from some of our more recent amendments.

My summary? This law is a really strange – make that bizarre – mix of weird expansions of rights (particularly, the extension of property rights to webcasters and perhaps beyond – well beyond what the Broadcasters’ Rights Treaty will do), exceptions that won’t work (look at the format-shifting and time-shifting exceptions) – and TPM laws that look much better than anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the world.

And what happens next? Well, as far as I can see, what happens next is that Submissions are due February (late), the Parliamentary Committee (I think, the Commerce Committee) reports in June. So radically unlike us, it seems, NZ like to have time to think.

Over the fold: more detail. (more…)

T’was the week before Christmas, and all through the land
Not a creature was copying: such actions were banned.

The iPods were placed in their cradles with care
In hopes that there soon would be music to share

Then up at the Big House in Canberra – what news!
I sprang to my keyboard, more law to peruse,

And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
A release from Phil Ruddock! Ah yes! Listen here!

A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had naught more to dread,

I can take up my iPod, pull out that old scanner,
Buy a TiVo for Yule, use them all! Any manner!

For I heard Phil exclaim, (with much fine print, so small),
Copyright is reformed! Merry Xmas to all!

The Copyright Amendment Act received Royal Assent yesterday. The press release is here. Effective immediately: Schedule 6 (private copying, ³special case² exception, fair dealing, parody and satire, libraries); Schedule 7 (maker of communication); Schedule 8 (responses to Digital agenda Review: educational institutions); Schedules 10 and 11 (Copyright Tribunal). Effective from January: all those criminal bits and TPM bits. This Xmas present will give you a hangover.

about fair use, space shifting/personal copying, the DMCA – can be found on Bill Patry’s blog here.

Well, the final report of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property has been released. The 140+ page report can be downloaded from here.

This is a big deal for the UK – a wholesale review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole UK IP system – albeit it has been easy to ignore the goings on, while we struggle locally with what is now, officially, the Australian Copyright Amendment Act 2006 (Cth). Below, a brief background, some links to the UK commentary, and some thoughts on how the recommendations stack up against/compare to what we’ve seen in the just-completed round of Australian copyright and other IP amendments. (more…)

Attorney-General’s new enews on copyright has been published. It is available here. Helpfully, it notes that the Copyright Amendment Act 2006 will shortly be available on the ComLaw website and a consolidated version of the Copyright Act 1968 is likely to be available on ComLaw by the end of January 2007. Not much new there for followers of the process, except the comments on when the law is due to come into effect: (more…)

It seems that the Copyright Amendment Bill passed the House of Reps at around 4:15pm today. Welcome to the new Australian copyright world. Presumably royal assent will occur sometime mid December, and it will all be fully in place soon. And here’s the government’s press release, and a ‘FAQ’ issued by the government on the Bill. According to the press release, we are ‘leading the way’ in copyright reform. So, um – where exactly are we going? There’s even a suggestion that ‘England, Canada, and New Zealand were all considering private use provisions and would look to Australia’s model, which balanced the rights of consumers and creators.’ Lord preserve them from too close a following….

But wait, said the guy with the BeDazzler – there’s more!

I happened to be prowling around the Bills Net site today, looking for something, and lo and behold, I found the amendments the government proposed to the Copyright Amendment Bill. And you know what? In addition to the 12 pages of amendments I’ve previously discussed (initially here, then in amended FAQs here), I find there’s another 3 pages – introduced on 30 November (the other set were dated 28 November). Hmmm……

Anyway, so there is more than I thought.

And what do they do? Well, in fact, they get rid of more of the strict liability offences. And they make a few other changes: to the timeshifting provisions, and some other things. Details over the fold. (more…)

You will find, after a period of seriously heavy blogging recently owing to the Australian Copyright Amendment Bill, this blog will be a lot less active in the next while.

I’m in Melbourne, but preparing for a permanent move to the University of Queensland, site of the excellent ACIPA research centre on IP in January, and in any event, the urgency has gone out of the whole blogging thing now that the Bill is more or less done and dusted. We are all a bit copyrighted and commented and submissioned and discussioned out.

But there’s a couple of interesting things going on: one in open access in Australia, one in copyright in Germany. More over the fold… (more…)

A few quick links this morning on the Australian Copyright Amendment Bill:

You can read the debate in the Senate on the Bill yesterday (several Senators from the Committee: Ludwig, Bartlett, Lundy, McCrossin, as well as Ellison from the government side) here (beware: big pdf). (The debate is at page 23 and following, then page 67 and following).


The ACCC (Australia’s consumer and competition watchdog) has released a draft guide to copyright licensing and collecting societies. It is seeking comments by 31 January 2007 (at least, a timeline for comments in copyright that’s not utterly unreasonable!!!).

From the press release: (more…)

Then you should read this beautifully-written recap on the oral arguments in the US Supreme Court in the KSR case – an important US case on obviousness. And if you’re interested in more, I recommend The Fire of Genius, and Patently-O.

And in a completely UnAustralian but interesting note, it appears, from what’s being said on TechDirt, that USTR pressure will see AllofMP3 – the Russian site for cheap music – shut down.

As we all know, the government released its amendments to the Copyright Amendment Bill yesterday. The Bill is the culmination of the US FTA, and numerous reviews, public and not-so-public, that have been going on since about 2003, and is probably the biggest copyright reform we’ve seen since 2000 (and are likely to see for some time, would be my guess).

The Bill was due to be debated in Parliament today (assume it still is until I hear otherwise from someone). My initial (somewhat heated, oops!) comments on the amendments are here. My comments on the Amendment Bill as a whole you will find by using the links on the sidebar of my other blog, Weatherall’s Law.
But for those of you who joined us late (where have you been?) or just want a handy summary, here’s my FAQs on the amended Copyright Amendment Bill: (more…)

Here are some first thoughts on the Amendments the government has proposed to its own Copyright Amendment Bill. Get the amendments here.  Get the explanatory memorandum on the amendments (supplementary EM) here.  Detailed comments over the fold, but here’s the conclusion.

With these amendments, the government has removed the most pernicious effects of the Amendment Bill (or at least, those we’ve managed to find, given the incredibly short time we had to look at it). It removes stupidities like the 10% cap on research copying, and includes an iPod exception that does cover the iPod. The key outlier here is the Criminal schedule, which is very close to being just as problematic as it originally was.

But even with these amendments, and leaving the criminal provisions to one side, the Copyright Amendment Bill is an unholy mess of qualifications, conditions, and incomprehensible drafting. It represents a lost opportunity.

Even with these amendments, this Bill fails the two basic tests the Attorney-General set himself when he started this process. This bill does not give Australians the same rights that American consumers have. And it does not ensure that consumers are treated like consumers and pirates like pirates. It treats everyone as pirates. Everyone from 14 year old wanna be stars, to Google, Apple, the creators of MySpace, YouTube or any other exciting new technology. Welcome to Australia, your own personal copyright nightmare.


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