Published on 20 August 2012.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released the first consultation paper for the Inquiry about Copyright law—Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC IP 42, 2012).

Under the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry, the ALRC is to consider whether exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act 1968 are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment and whether further exceptions should be recommended. The Inquiry recognises the emerging digital economy and the need to ensure copyright law provides incentives for investment in innovation and content while also allowing appropriate access to that content so that Australia’s needs in the internet age are met, both domestically and internationally.

ALRC Commissioner for the Copyright Inquiry, Professor Jill McKeough, said “Copyright law is an important part of Australia’s digital infrastructure and is relevant to commercial, creative and cultural policy. The questions we are asking in this Inquiry go to whether our current copyright laws are properly aiding the development of opportunities for Australian creators and not unduly hindering the development of new business models while at the same time ensuring appropriate protection for copyright. At the same time, the expectations of a global community to access and use material for a whole range of creative, community, educative and commercial purposes also needs to be considered. We are aware that, in formulating any proposals for reform of copyright law, the costs and benefits to the community must be taken into account.”

The Issues Paper forms a basis for consultation and asks more than 50 questions relevant to how the current copyright framework is affecting both commercial and creative enterprise and how current exceptions and statutory licences are working in the digital environment. The Issues Paper provides background information, highlights the issues so far identified in research and consultations, and outlines the principles that will shape the ALRC’s proposals for reform. The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to the questions contained in the Issues Paper, or to any of the background material and analysis provided.  This community input will help inform the development of draft recommendations for reform to be released in a Discussion Paper due in mid 2013.

The Issues Paper is available free of charge from the ALRC website.

The ALRC prefers submissions via the ALRC online submission form: www.alrc.gov.au/content/copyright-and-digital-economy-online-submission. Written submissions can also be posted, faxed or emailed to the ALRC.

Postal address GPO Box 3708 Sydney NSW 2001.

Closing date for submissions is Friday 16 November 2012.

For more information about the ALRC inquiry or to subscribe to the Copyright Inquiry e-newsletter please go to www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/copyright.

The Final Report is due to be delivered by 30 November 2013.