Reform of statutory licences

The education sector and various governments expressed dissatisfaction with the statutory licensing schemes for education and the Crown. There were strong calls for the licences to be repealed.

The ALRC has concluded that there is, at least for now, a continued role for these statutory licences. The enactment of fair use and new exceptions for government use should address many of the criticisms of the statutory licences. If new exceptions such as these are not enacted, then the case for repealing the statutory licences becomes considerably stronger.

The licensing environment has changed in recent decades, and the statutory licences should be reformed to ensure they fulfil their objectives. They need to be streamlined and made less rigid and prescriptive. The terms of the licence should be agreed on by the parties, not prescribed in legislation.

The Copyright Act should also be clarified to ensure the statutory licences are truly voluntary for users, as they were intended to be. It should also be made clear that educational institutions, institutions assisting people with disability and governments can rely on fair use and the other unremunerated exceptions that everyone else can rely on, to the extent that the exceptions apply.

These reforms of the licences and the enactment of fair use will ensure copyright law does not inhibit education and governments in the digital environment.