A new report issued by the Australian Law Reform Commission advocating the inclusion of fair use provisions in the country’s copyright laws has drawn criticism from both the Australian Publishers Association and the International Publishers Association.
The ALRC report urges that fair use be added to Australia’s copyright laws to cover such uses as research or study, criticism or review, news reporting, quotation, non-commercial private use, technical use, library or archive, education, and access for people with disabilities. A list of fairness factors, much like those used in the U.S., would be considered in determining fair use, such as the purpose of the use, the nature of the material, the amount of the material and the effect on the value of the material.
José Borghino, policy director for IPA, said the ALRC report posed “real concerns for publishers.” He argued that adopting fair use language in a country that has little experience with the concept “would be wrongheaded in the extreme.” Fair use has a long history in U.S. law and has been the subject of numerous lawsuits to determine just what fair use is. Borghino noted that even in America. fair use “does not offer certainty for investors in content or anyone else.” He contended that Australia already has “a productive balance between users’ requirements and the needs of publishers and creators to re-invest in high-quality resources.”
Michael Gordon-Smith, Chief Executive of the APA, said existing “fair dealing” provisions in Australia copyright law are sufficient protection. “If the very broad exception proposed by the ALRC were adopted, it would risk substantial damage to businesses that invest in innovation and produce intellectual property in pursuit of uncertain and unlikely benefits.”