The Inquiry process

1.31 Since 1975 the ALRC has had a history of independent inquiry into law reform, and over that time has developed a well-established, rigorous process, the results of which have gained a considerable degree of public respect and recognition of high quality outcomes.[39] Within that established framework the process for each law reform project may differ according to the scope of inquiry, the range of key stakeholders, the complexity of the laws under review, and the period of time allotted for the inquiry. While the exact procedure needs to be tailored to suit each topic, the ALRC usually works within a particular framework when it develops recommendations for reform.

Stakeholder consultation

1.32 As is usual, in this Inquiry the ALRC consulted with relevant stakeholders, including the community and industry, and engaged in widespread public consultation.

1.33 The first stage of the Inquiry included the release of the Issues Paper[40] in August 2012, to identify the issues raised by the Terms of Reference and suggest principles which could guide proposals for reform, as well as to inform the community about the range of issues under consideration, and invite feedback in the form of submissions. The Issues Paper generated 295 submissions.

1.34 On 30 May 2013 a Discussion Paper was released[41] and the ALRC again called for submissions to inform the final stage of deliberations leading up to this Report. In total, the ALRC received 870 public and 139 confidential submissions to the Inquiry.[42]

1.35 The ALRC also undertook 109 consultations.[43] Key stakeholders were invited, and took the opportunity, to advise on the composition of industry roundtable meetings. In addition, industry-specific roundtable meetings, consultations and visits were conducted on numerous occasions.

1.36 Consultations and submissions included those with and from:

  • academics (individuals and groups);

  • creators and organisations (authors, directors, photographers and others);

  • the education sector;

  • the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) sector;

  • government authorities, (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; the Australian Communications and Media Authority; IP Australia; Standards Australia and many others);

  • media and broadcasting and related organisations and industry bodies;

  • music organisations;

  • online service providers;

  • publishers and publisher organisations; and

  • rights management organisations.

1.37 Internet communication tools—including an enewsletter and online forums—were used to provide information and obtain comment. The ALRC also made use of Twitter to provide information on relevant media reports, as well as to provide a further avenue for community engagement.

1.38 The ALRC acknowledges the contribution of all those who participated in the Inquiry consultation rounds and the considerable amount of work involved in preparing submissions. It is the invaluable work of participants that enriches the whole consultative process of ALRC inquiries and the ALRC records its deep appreciation for this contribution.

Appointed experts

1.39 In addition to the contribution of expertise by way of consultations and submissions, specific expertise is also obtained in ALRC inquiries through the establishment of its Advisory Committees and the appointment of part-time Commissioners. While the ultimate responsibility for the Report and recommendations remains with the Commissioners of the ALRC, the establishment of a panel of experts as an Advisory Committee is an aspect of ALRC inquiries. Advisory Committees assist in the identification of key issues and provide quality assurance in the research and consultation aspects of the Inquiry. The Advisory Committee for this Inquiry was unusually large at 24 members, listed at the front of this Report, and met in Sydney on 19 July 2012, 11 April 2013 and 26 September 2013.

1.40 In this Inquiry the ALRC was able to call upon the expertise and experience of its standing part-time Commissioners, all judges of the Federal Court of Australia: the Hon Justice Susan Kenny, the Hon Justice John Middleton and the Hon Justice Nye Perram. All are experienced intellectual property judges, and Justice Perram was President of the Copyright Tribunal of Australia at the time of the Inquiry.

1.41 In this Inquiry the Advisory Committee also included the Hon Justice David Yates. As well as four Federal Court judges, the Advisory Committee benefited from a number of senior legal practitioners who have represented all manner of copyright owners and large copyright interests, a former member of the Copyright Tribunal of Australia, two regulatory economists and the Chief Executive of the peak body of copyright owners. The role of the Advisory Committee is to advise on coherence and structure of the ALRC process and recommendations; it does not formulate reform recommendations, and members are invited in their individual capacity. They are explicitly asked not to act in any representative capacity.

1.42 The ALRC acknowledges the contribution made by the part-time Commissioners, Advisory Committee and expert readers in this Inquiry and expresses gratitude to them for voluntarily providing their time and expertise.