ALRC releases copyright report

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released the final report for its inquiry, Copyright and the Digital Economy. The ALRC was asked to consider whether current copyright exceptions are adequate and appropriate in the digital era.

The report recommends the introduction of fair use in Australia. Fair use is a defence to copyright infringement that essentially asks of any particular use: Is this fair? Fair use is found in a number of countries, notably the United States, and it builds on existing Australian laws that allow the fair use of copyright material for purposes such as research, study and reporting the news.

The Commissioner in charge of the inquiry, Professor Jill McKeough said, ‘Fair use is a flexible exception that can be applied to new technologies and services, which is crucial in the digital economy.’

‘Fair use can facilitate the public interest in accessing material, encourage new productive uses, and stimulate competition and innovation,’ Professor McKeough said.

‘But fair use also protects the interests of writers, musicians, film-makers, publishers and other rights holders. It was very important that in an inquiry about exceptions to copyright, we not lose sight of the purpose of copyright law.’

The report also recommends some specific exceptions, such as for libraries and archives to make preservation copies, for judicial proceedings and royal commissions, and for public access to certain documents lodged with government.

There are also reforms to encourage the use of ‘orphan works’—a wealth of copyright material that is neglected and wasted because rights holders cannot be found.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said ‘The 30 recommendations in this report are designed to allow for a more principles-based and less prescriptive approach to copyright law. In a highly contested field, we have suggested reforms that will protect creators and their markets, provide appropriate access to material, simplify and modernise the law, and create a better environment for innovation and economic development.’

The report follows an 18 month inquiry, during which the ALRC produced two consultation documents, undertook over 100 consultations and received over 850 submissions. A number of industry roundtables were held and an advisory committee of experts met three times to provide comment and feedback on the ALRC’s work.

Professor Croucher thanked Professor McKeough for her work on this complex inquiry, and the hundreds of people who contributed through submissions and consultations.

The reportCopyright and the Digital Economy(Report 122, 2013)—and a summary report is available on the ALRC website. The report is also freely available as an ebook.

Issue 9 | 29 November 2013.  View original format.

Final report delivered to Attorney-General

The final Report in the Copyright Inquiry, Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122), has been completed and presented to the Attorney-General, as required by the Terms of Reference. The Report is the result of an 18-month Inquiry during which the ALRC produced two consultation documents—an Issues Paper and aDiscussion Paper—ran an online discussion forum, conducted 109 consultations and received over 860 submissions.

Under the leadership of Professor McKeough, the Copyright team was also assisted by the expertise of its standing part-time Commissioners—all judges of the Federal Court of Australia and all experienced intellectual property judges: the Hon Justice Susan Kenny, the Hon Justice John Middleton and the Hon Justice Nye Perram. As well, the ALRC constituted an Advisory Committee of 24 highly esteemed experts from various areas intersecting with copyright that met three times during the Inquiry. We also convened four industry-specific roundtable meetings: with creators, the cultural sector, the GLAM sector, and the music industry. We are extremely grateful for their advice and feedback and for giving so generously of their time. 

We also thank everyone who engaged with the Inquiry through consultations and submissions—these are vital to the ALRC process.

Most importantly, we thank Professor Jill McKeough who now ends her term as ALRC Commissioner. Jill has led the Copyright team with intelligence and purpose and has ensured that over the course of this very complex and contested Inquiry, our many stakeholders have been able to have their say and have their views deeply considered.

Under the ALRC Act, the government now has 15 parliamentary sitting days within which to table the Report. Once tabled it will become a public document. The Report will then be available from the ALRC website in a variety of formats, including as an ebook.

We will let you know as soon as the report is available via this enews.


Issue 8 | 24 June 2013.  View original format.

Online discussion – what is fair?

A key proposal in the Discussion Paper released on 5 June 2013 was the introduction of a broad, flexible exception for fair use of copyright material (see Chapter 4 – The Case for Fair Use in Australia). This would allow people to use copyright material without getting permission from the rights holders, as long as the use is “fair”.

Today we have opened an online discussion board to obtain views on what people think is fair and not fair when it comes to using other people’s content and copyright material, and for what purposes. We particularly want to hear from individuals who may not make a formal submission, including creators and users of copyright material.

Comedian, writer and filmmaker Dan Ilic has kindly kicked things off for us with an initial post.

Commenting on this forum will close on Wednesday 24 July 2013.

Copyright and Fair Use – Online Discussion >>

For those wanting a (very) condensed overview of the Discussion Paper, Commissioner Jill McKeough has recorded a short podcast describing key aspects.

Online submission form available

For individuals and organisations making formal submissions in response to the Discussion Paper, the online submission form is now available.

We prefer to receive submissions via the online form, which provides a space to respond to each question/proposal and room for additional comments. There is no obligation to respond to every item. Simply choose those which are relevant to you.

We also accept submissions by post and email, preferably in Word format.

The closing date for submissions is Wednesday 31 July 2013.

Submissions will be published on the ALRC website.

Find out more about making a submission >>


Sabina Wynn (SW): Hello, I’m Sabina Wynn, the Executive Director of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and I’m here with Professor Jill McKeough who is the Commissioner in charge of the Copyright Inquiry. The ALRC has just released a Discussion Paper for this Inquiry, and I was wondering if you could just outline, Jill, what’s actually wrong with the Copyright Act?

Jill McKeough: A lot of people have told us the Copyright Act is very out of date. It’s technology specific and it doesn’t recognise what consumers want to do with copyright material. Back in 2006 the Attorney-General said that copyright law needs to be more sensible and it needs to ensure that people aren’t accidentally infringing all the time.

SW: So can you give us some examples of that?

JM: Well one example is, if you post a video of your 3-year old on YouTube singing a One Direction song— that’s an infringement of copyright at the moment.

SW: And what about businesses? Do they have concerns?

JM: Lots of concern from business. We’ve been told that the Act prevents business from being innovative and at times causes difficulties in introducing new services and products into Australia. So for example, even the use of search engines is infringement. Another issue is cloud services and cloud storage. It’s difficult for companies to set up new services and products using the internet because of the provisions of the Copyright Act at the moment.

SW: And in the education sector, for example schools, universities or TAFEs, I suppose they’ve got their own specific concerns?

JM: At the moment the Act allows schools, universities and TAFEs to use copyright material under what’s called a statutory licence scheme. These again are very technology specific and are seen to be very rigid and out of date and not really suited to the digital environment.

SW: I know that we’ve heard from a lot of libraries, museums and art galleries. What are some of their concerns?

JM: Well they have difficulties in doing activities to preserve our cultural heritage and letting people have access to important material. I’ll just give you one example. Next year is the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One, and around the country a lot of libraries and museums have got, for example, war diaries. Now, once these are published they come into copyright and it’s technically an infringement of copyright to be disseminating them or letting the public see them. And lots of libraries and museums would like to be able to unlock their World War One archive now the centenary is approaching.

SW: And so, a lot of problems then. What’s the ALRC actually been asked to do?

JM: Well one of the concerns we’ve got is of course to make sure the owners of copyright material don’t lose their rights and the chance to develop new ways of using copyright material to earn a living, and what we’ve been asked to do is to review the Act to see whether it needs amendment to allow Australia to fully participate in a modern digital economy. We have terms of reference which ask us to see whether the Act is working properly, to allow Australians to access and use and interact with copyright material. And I’ve mentioned how out of date it’s thought to be, particularly with the internet and new and developing ways of using copyright material. We’ve all got lots of clever devices now that we use to access music, films and books and other things protected by copyright. One of the things we’ve specifically been asked to look at is whether Australia should introduce a Fair Use provision to allow more flexible use of copyright material. So for example, is it really going to hurt the interests of the copyright owner to have your 3-year old singing a song on YouTube.

SW: There seems to be a lot of passion about copyright law, and there’s some fairly polarised views out there. What do you think are the key tensions in this Inquiry?

JM: There certainly are polarised views. Copyright owners fear that freeing up copyright law will allow piracy to increase if changes to the law are made. And the other issue is about making it more uncertain. So, if we introduce reforms, there won’t be a lot of case law, there won’t be a lot of precedent, and it’s the difficulty of adjusting to that new environment that copyright owners fear. Users say that that the Act is preventing innovation and stopping access to knowledge and is increasingly irrelevant.

SW: So with all these differences of opinion, how are you actually going to come to terms with balancing all the different views.

JM: We’ve got five important criteria that we’re going to use in assessing all the reforms, and we’re going to filter everything through these. So let me just say what they are. First of all, the most important thing really is acknowledging and respecting the efforts of authors and creators of copyright material. Secondly, we want to make sure that the incentives to create remain, in other words that copyrights and property rights continue to be respected. We need to promote fair access and wide dissemination of information, and we want to provide rules that are flexible and adaptable so that the Copyright Act doesn’t go out of date as quickly as it usually does. And we also need to provide rules that are consistent with our international obligations.

SW: Well the Discussion Paper has a number of proposals. Can you just outline what you think the key proposals are?

JM: I suppose the one that’s grabbing all the headlines is that we’re recommending that Australia should introduce fair use into copyright law. Fair use is a defence to copyright infringement which allows consideration of use of copyright material by asking “is this fair?”.

SW: So, could you give us an example?

JM: Well, I’ve used the example of putting your favourite song in a home video and loading it up to YouTube. Is it fair to do that? Is it fair to the copyright owner? Is it something that’s not going to damage their interests? Is it fair to use a search engine to find information? Is it really going to stop the person whose website is being technically copied from earning a living? We think probably not. Is it fair to allow publication of documents in old archives to be made public? That’s the sort of thing that will be determined on a case by case basis. There’s many other examples of course, and the statue doesn’t define what is fair, but we have a pretty good idea developed over many years as to what might be allowed and what might not be allowed.

SW: And, so, there must be, well there are a lot of other proposals. What are some of the other ones you’re looking at?

JM: Well, Australia already has a concept of fair dealing for certain purposes, and fair use really is an extension of this. But, if fair use is not adopted in Australia, we’ve also made some alternative recommendations on fair use and some other examples of where that might be used. As well as that we’ve got other reform proposals relating to the replacement of statutory licenses with voluntary licensing which is more adaptable to the digital environment.  We’ve been told that the Act is out of date and too technologically specific, so we’ve got a few recommendations that tidy up that sort of thing. There’s a concept of orphan works in copyright law, and that relates to material that is lingering in archives or stored away somewhere and no one knows owns it. No one can trace who is the copyright owner – and these are called orphan works. The National Library of Australia alone has over 2 million unpublished items in its collection, and a significant number of these are orphan works. So we’ve made some proposals about those. And we’ve also made some proposals about re-transmission of free-to-air broadcasts and some other broadcasting aspects of the Act.

SW: We received over 290 submissions to the first consultation paper in this Inquiry, the Issues Paper. Now you’ve released the Discussion Paper calling again for submissions from stakeholders to help us work towards final recommendations. You’ve obviously done a lot of consulting and there’s more consulting coming up in the next few months. What’s the next stage of the Inquiry?

JM:  Well we’re still very much in the process of deciding the best way forward for reforming the Copyright Act and we’re still very open to ideas about this. We talked to a lot of people about what they thought the issues were, and we talked to a lot of people after we developed the 55 questions based on those issues so there’ll be further consultation and of course we hope to get formal submissions.

SW: So the final Report is due to the Attorney-General at the end of November. The ALRC is also using a discussion board for consultation. How do you think that will work?

JM: Well, we’re very interested in this. We’re going to be opening an online discussion on the website shortly. We’re very keen to hear from people who may not want to or be able to make a formal submission. They can just make a quick comment on the discussion board. We’d particularly like to hear from individual creators and users about the sorts of things they want to be able to do with copyright material and what they think ‘fair use’ might look like. So, if people keep an eye out for the Twitter feed or subscribe to our e-news, they’ll know when the discussion begins.

SW: Thanks Jill. And just a reminder that submissions to the Discussion Paper are due to the ALRC at the end of July.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released its Discussion Paper for the copyright inquiry—Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC DP 79, 2013) containing 42 proposals regarding reform of the copyright.

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 ALRC is seeking feedback on the proposals from stakeholders.

ALRC Commissioner for the Copyright Inquiry, Professor Jill McKeough, said “The ALRC has been very pleased with the response of the community to this inquiry. We received 295 submissions to our Issues Paper, and have also had the opportunity to meet face to face with many people with an interest in this Inquiry. In releasing this Discussion Paper we are calling for submissions to inform the final stage of our deliberations leading up to the final Report.”

The ALRC has suggested 5 framing principles for this Inquiry: acknowledging and respecting authorship and creation; maintaining incentives for creation of works and other subject matter; promoting fair access to and wide dissemination of content; providing rules that are flexible and adaptive to new technologies; and providing rules that are consistent with Australia’s international obligations. Any recommendations the ALRC finally makes will be weighed against these principles.

Commissioner McKeough stated “The reforms proposed include the introduction of a broad, flexible exception for fair use of copyright material and the consequent repeal of many of the current exceptions in the Copyright Act, so that the copyright regime becomes more flexible and adaptable. An alternative model, should fair use not be enacted, suggests the addition of new fair dealing exceptions, recognising fairness factors. Other reform proposals relate to the replacement of certain statutory licences with voluntary licensing more suited to the digital environment; the use of orphan works; provisions relating to preservation of copyright material by cultural institutions; and contracting out of the operation of copyright exceptions. Two alternative proposals relating to the scheme for the retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts are set out for comment from stakeholders, in addition to other proposals relating to broadcasting.”

The Discussion Paper is available free of charge from the ALRC website <> and as an ebook. The ALRC strongly encourages online submissions directly through the ALRC website where an online submission form facilitates responses to individual questions. Written submissions can also be posted, faxed or emailed to the ALRC.

Postal address GPO Box 3708 Sydney NSW 2001.   Email:

Facsimile: +61 2 8238 6363

The closing date for submissions to this Discussion Paper is 31 July 2013.

For more information about the ALRC inquiry or to subscribe to the Copyright Inquiry e-newsletter please go to The Final Report is due to be delivered to the Attorney-General of Australia by 30 November 2013.

Issue 7 | 5 June 2013.  View original format.

It’s here! Discussion Paper now available

The Copyright and the Digital Economy Discussion Paper is now available, marking the second phase of broad public consultation for this Inquiry. The Discussion Paper contains 42 questions and proposals regarding reform of the Copyright Act, including the introduction of a broad, flexible exception for fair use of copyright material and the consequent repeal of many of the current exceptions, with a view to making Australia’s copyright regime more flexible and adaptable.

The Discussion Paper is available on the ALRC website in html and PDF, and also as an ebook.

See media release >>

See Discussion Paper >>

Make a submission

We strongly encourage individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to this Discussion Paper and, in so doing, contribute to the law reform process. These submissions are crucial in helping us develop final recommendations. It is helpful if comments address specific questions or proposals in the Discussion Paper.

The closing date for submissions is Wednesday 31 July 2013.

An online submission form will be available at the ALRC website in a week or so. We prefer to receive submissions via the online form, but also accept submissions by post and email, preferably in Word format.

Find out more about making a submission.

Issue 6 | 24 April 2013.  View original format.

Save the date–for Discussion Paper submissions

This month the Copyright team is busy writing, preparing to release a Discussion Paper (DP)—the second consultation document for the Copyright and the Ditgital Ecomony inquiry. We expect to have the full DP up on the ALRC website by Tuesday 4 June, including the e-book format.

The DP will offer some preliminary options for reform, including a range of alternatives. We will again call for submissions to build upon the evidence base established so far to inform the final stage of deliberations prior to the final Report. Stakeholders will have eight weeks to make submissions responding to the questions and proposals in the DP. The closing date for submissions will be Friday July 26.

Meanwhile, an Advisory Committee meeting took place on 11 April, and since then the team has held two roundtable consultations—with the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) sector and with content owners. A third roundtable with creators will take place in coming weeks, and a further round of consultations will begin after the release of the Discussion Paper. 

New developments


One set of issues not raised in the Issues paper but which the ALRC will examine in the Discussion Paper relates to the operation of exceptions in the Copyright Act that refer to the concept of a ‘broadcast’ and ‘broadcasting’. Copyright issues arise where radio stations stream content simultaneously on the internet that is identical to their terrestrial broadcasts (‘simulcast’). In Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited v Commercial Radio Australia Limited, the Full Court of the Federal Court held that, in doing so, a radio station was acting outside the terms of its statutory licence, as internet streaming is not a ‘broadcast’. An application for special leave to appeal this decision to the High Court was filed in March 2013. 

In a related development, the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee is to examine the effectiveness of current regulatory arrangements (under the Broadcasting Services Act and the Copyright Act) in dealing with simulcasts. The Committee is due to report by 1 June 2013.

Aereo — US

Those who followed the Federal Court cases concerning the Optus TV Now service may also be interested in the fate of US company, Aereo. Aereo transmits live broadcast television to its customers via the Internet, but does not pay the retransmission fees that cable companies pay to broadcasters.

Earlier this month, a US court of appeal concluded that that ‘Aereo’s transmissions of unique copies of broadcast television programs created at its users’ requests and transmitted while the programs are still airing on broadcast television are not ‘public performances’ of the Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works under Cablevision.’

In a dissenting opinion, the Aereo service was described as ‘over-engineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law’. The decision is likely to be appealed.

Meltwater case — UK

In Public Relations Consultants Association v The Newspaper Licensing Agency and Others [2013] UKSC, the UK Supreme Court stated that automatic ‘cached’ copies made to allow users to browse the internet does not constitute infringement. The Court referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Meltwater uses automated software to create a daily index of words appearing on newspaper websites. Meltwater’s customers supply it with search terms which are run against the index. The results are delivered to its customers by email, and are also provided on Meltwater’s website. The real question on appeal, the Court said, was ‘whether Meltwater’s customers would need a licence to receive its service if the monitoring report were made available only on Meltwater’s website.’

The case turned on the interpretation of Article 5.1 of the “InfoSoc” Directive (2001/29/EC), which broadly permits temporary copies automatically produced as an integral part of a technological process. The court found that since Article 5.1 authorises the making of copies to enable an end-user to view copyright material, it follows that ‘ordinary technical processes’ which go with it must also be allowed. It noted that the technical process required to browse the internet could not function ‘correctly or efficiently’ without such temporary copies.

Orphan works — US

The US Copyright Office is continuing its Orphan Works Review. The Office is to consider the ‘current state of play for orphan works’ and ‘what has changed in the legal and business environments in the last few years that might be relevant to a resolution of the problem and what additional legislative, regulatory, or voluntary solutions deserve deliberation’. The ALRC is keeping a close eye on the review and our interns are summarising the issues coming out of the first round of submissions.

Interns on the Copyright inquiry

In February we were fortunate to have the assistance of three law student interns full-time for three weeks. As this was during the university break we were able to host interns from outside the Sydney area and Kiri McEwan, Christopher Stackpoole and Penelope Swales enthusiastically took part in helping us analyse submissions.

Two weeks ago we welcomed three more interns, Oliver Doraisamy, Steven Gardiner and Bronte Lambourne who are also doing excellent work in chasing up final details for the Discussion Paper.

Applications for the Second Semester program close on 8 July 2013.


Issue 5 | January 2013.  View original format.


Happy new year to our copyright subscribers! At final count, the ALRC received 283 public submissions in response to the Issues Paper (released 20 August 2012), and each is published on the ALRC website. We are very grateful to stakeholders for their generosity and time in responding to our questions.

Submissions contain a wide range of views: some very polarised, many providing constructive information and evidence. There is overall agreement with the policy parameters outlined in the Issues Paper, with a few suggestions for alteration or addition. Many submissions said that it is essential that the ALRC remember the important role copyright law plays in rewarding creators and giving them an incentive to create.

There has been a high level of interest in the submissions, with commentary in mainstream media, alternative media, blogs and on Twitter, and a large amount of traffic to the submissions page on the ALRC website.

Submissions include those from:

  • Academics (individuals and groups)
  • Creators and organisations (authors, directors, photographers and others)
  • Education sector
  • GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums)
  • Government entities (including the ACCC, ACMA and IP Australia, as well as various state governments and authorities)
  • Media/broadcasting/other content organisations and industry bodies
  • Music organisations
  • Online service providers
  • Publishers and publisher organisations
  • Rights management organisations

A number of submissions note that our inquiry does not look at some important issues of concern to content owners, such as piracy and enforcement, intermediary liability and technological protection measures. These are outside our Terms of Reference, but naturally the ALRC is watching for any developments in these crucial areas with interest.

What’s next?

From February we will begin a fresh round of consultations—including roundtables with a range of stakeholders on developments in law and technology and international comparisons— while reference groups of content owners, collecting societies, business interest groups, creators, the GLAM sector and others are being planned in order to provide the widest possible input. Together with the submissions already received, these consultations will feed into the Discussion Paper, planned for the end of May/early June 2013. The Discussion Paper will canvass possibilities for reforms to the Copyright Act, if any, and allow more focussed discussions with stakeholders. We will, at that time, also call for a second round of submissions.

Further afield

International developments concerning copyright law and reviews continue to emerge as the ALRC Inquiry progresses. Recent news includes the UK Government final response to the Hargreaves Report and the announcement of a review and update of EU copyright law. A review of orphan works and copyright is taking place in the US, and WIPO is using YouTube to discuss intellectual property rights.

Interns on the Copyright inquiry

In the second week of January we were delighted to welcome three interns from Harvard: Will Brien, Emma Raviv and Michael Springer. Over the past three weeks they have worked with the Copyright team to assist with analysis of the submissions and develop some themes emerging from the many contributions from stakeholders. We thank them for their work.

Applications for the Semester 1 (part-time) intern program are now open. Domestic law students with a particular interest in the Copyright inquiry should get their applications to us by 11 February 2013. For insight into what it is like to be an intern on the Copyright inquiry listen to Max Bulinski, from the University of Michigan, talk about his time with the ALRC last year.

See selection criteria for interns >>


In August 2012 Max Bulinski, from the University of Michigan in the United States, joined the ALRC as a full-time intern.

Max was the recipient of a Bates Fellowship, enabling him to work at the ALRC, in Sydney, for nearly 4 months. Max worked closely with the Copyright inquiry team and, in this interview, explains a bit about what that involved.

Find out more about the ALRC legal internship program and how to apply, or listen to more intern interviews.


Sabina Wynn (SW):  Hello. I’m Sabina Wynn, Executive Director of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and I’m here with Max Bulinski who’s a law student from the University of Michigan in the United States, and he’s been able to do an internship with us for about 4 months now, full time, as part of the Bates Fellowship. Max, perhaps you can start by telling us why you wanted to do an internship with the ALRC.

Max Bulinski (MB): Sure Sabina, thanks.  I was looking at doing legal development, and there aren’t a lot of internships within the States that focus on this specifically. So, I basically went into Google, and typed in phrases like “law reform” and things like that, to find opportunities abroad to do this kind of work. While it’s in Australia, obviously, and not the US, it still seemed very applicable due to the comparative nature of your work. And the more I looked into the organisation the more I found that, and the more appealing it became.

SW: And you were facilitated in your internship by the Bates Foundation. Could you just explain a little bit about what that is?

MB: Sure. The Bates Foundation was established by Henry and Clara Bates, and it’s established for overseas legal work, so it can be granted to anyone who meets a set of criteria, and the most important of those is that they’re doing work not on American soil. Traditionally it’s gone a lot to people who want to do immigration work in Cambodia, or development, that sort of work. But, they were good enough to give me the opportunity to come here to Australia, and I was really able to stay here a lot longer than I would have otherwise been because they cover things like housing … room and board expenses primarily.

SW: Well it’s been really lucky for the ALRC to be able to have you, working on the Copyright Inquiry, which is the team that you were assigned to. So, you’ve been working now with the legal team, with Commissioner Jill McKeough—what sort of tasks have you actually been doing?

MB: A lot of what I’ve been doing is research and writing on background information of copyright. Because we’re currently at a stage in the inquiry where we’re looking at what issues there are and trying to evaluate whether really those are accurate and consulting with stakeholders to evaluate where we might need to put a little more pressure on the law, or where it might actually be fine and just a perceived problem. What that actually looks like, day to day, is a lot of legal research, writing memos to the legal officers, and then we go to consultations with stakeholders. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to accompany the team to many of those consultations.

SW: So how have you found the consultation process?

MB:  The process is actually quite different than I expected. A lot of it is, of course, informing on the process of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and exactly how we go about our inquiry, and then we start getting a little more substantive and talking about: What are the problems that you are having? What would you like to do that copyright is stopping you from doing? Questions like that. And that’s been hugely informational for me to see not only from an academic standpoint what issues there are with copyright, but really what happens on the ground and how it’s difficult for different groups of people.

SW: So, what sorts of people have you actually consulted with? I know you’ve been to Canberra, to Melbourne, but what are the sorts of organisations you’ve actually been consulting with?

MB:  Well copyright, as you know, really runs the gamut. Everyone, it seems, deals with copyright to some degree or another. So we’ve met with groups ranging from the Australian Football League, down in Melbourne, to government agencies in Canberra dealing with digital broadcasts and things of that nature. Another group that we keep coming back to, that’s a fairly large stakeholder in this particular inquiry, is all of the collecting agencies— Screenrights, music, APRA, all of those kinds of agencies.

SW: So, as your internship comes to an end, what have you actually enjoyed most about your time at the ALRC?

MB: Well, first of all, I think the office is really great. It’s a small office, but, um, it’s very easy to walk into people’s offices and talk to them and, I think, particularly right after a consultation it’s a fantastic time, because you say, Ok, given the issues that we’ve just heard, how do we fix those? And, yeah, that might not be what we end up doing, but it helps to think through all of the issues and, it’s just great little mini brainstorming sessions that you get that I feel like you don’t get in a lot of other settings.

SW: So we at the ALRC have, as you know, have quite a few people coming to us from overseas to do internships, not just from America, but from the South Pacific, etc, but what advice would you give to an international law student who is interested in coming and spending some time and doing an internship with us?

MB: Well I think I’m … well I’m obviously most qualified to talk about from the American perspective. And I think that there are a few channels (particularly American) law schools try and funnel you down, and this definitely isn’t one of them. But for people interested in comparative law—this is where the point extends more broadly—this is an invaluable experience because you get to see not only how the Australian system functions, but in looking at restructuring Australian law we look at the UK, Canada, the US, South Pacific nations, so you really get a sense of the broader landscape and how law is changing. Um, and so I guess my advice is that, yeah, if that is what you are interested in, go for it, and if you can find some sort of funding, I mean fellowships like mine are out there, it enables you to stay for a little longer and see more of the process. Which I think is fantastic.

SW: Well Max it’s been great to have you at the ALRC. You’ve done some fantastic work and made a real contribution, and we’ll certainly miss you.

MB: Thank you Sabina.

Issue 4 | 19 October 2012  View original format.

Month in summary

The ALRC Copyright team, while awaiting submissions in response to the Issues Paper released on 20 August, has been continuing with research into the areas identified. During that time, there have been some developments on the copyright scene with two reports about copyright and the Australian economy being released: the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, The Economic Contribution of Australia’s Copyright Industries (commissioned by the Australian Copyright Council) appeared on 15 August 2012, and the report by Lateral Economics which includes two parts: Excepting the Future and Exceptional Industries (commissioned by Australian Digital Alliance), on 10 September. On 7 September, the High Court refused leave to appeal by Optus to overturn the ban on its time-shifting product TV Now. This drew media attention to the ALRC Issues Paper, in particular the questions about time shifting and cloud computing. September also saw the ABC  become ‘embroiled in copyright debate’ when it forced the removal of an application that enabled people to download programs offered on the iview service.

On 13 September, ALRC Senior Legal Officer Justine Clarke spoke at a public seminar presented by the Centre for Media and Communications Law, explaining the ALRC process and discussing some of the issues raised by the Issues Paper.

This month, Commissioner Jill McKeough will make a number of presentations covering aspects of the ALRC inquiry – to the Licensing Executives Society on 23 October, the Society of University Lawyers at their annual conference on 26 October, and the IP User’s Group of the Federal Court in Melbourne on 1 November. Last week, Commissioner McKeough sat on a panel “Openness – Copyright in the online age, moving towards a workable compromise after iiNet and Optus TV Now” at the Internet Governance Forum Australia in Canberra. The session was recorded and can be viewed online.

US copyright expert to visit Australia

On 13 November, in a public event hosted at Norton Rose, Professor Jill McKeough will introduce two distinguished experts on copyright for an evening of debate and discussion on the topic “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Fair use or fair dealing in Australia?  Norton Rose, UTS Faculty of Law and the ALRC are delighted that Professor Jane C. Ginsburg, Morton L Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property at Columbia Law School is visiting Australia and has agreed to speak on the evening about the US experience. Responding to Professor Ginsburg will be Professor Robert Burrell, Winthrop Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia. Both are published experts on fair dealing and fair use in copyright law. Registrations will be available via the UTS website.


We’d like to remind everyone, the closing date for submissions to the Copyright and the Digital Economy Issues Paper – 16 November 2012 – is just 4 weeks away.  We encourage use of the online submission form – to ensure the terms of reference are addressed, and to assist us in collating responses.

We will be publishing public submissions on the ALRC website in due course.