Scope of broadcast copyright

15.20 The grant of a separate copyright in broadcasts did not occur until the passage of the Copyright Act in 1968, and followed Australia’s accession to the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations (Rome Convention).[19] The Rome Convention established a regime for protecting rights neighbouring on copyright, including minimum rights for broadcasting organisations.

15.21 These rights can be protected by copyright law, as in Australia, or by other measures. Under the Convention, broadcasting organisations enjoy, among other things, the right to authorise or prohibit the ‘rebroadcasting of their broadcasts’.[20] Broadcasting is defined under the Rome Convention as ‘transmission by wireless means’[21] and re-broadcasting as the ‘simultaneous broadcasting by one broadcasting organisation of the broadcast of another broadcasting organisation’.[22] The Rome Convention does not require that broadcasters have an exclusive right to retransmission of their signal by cable.

15.22 In Australia, however, the Copyright Act provides that copyright in relation to a broadcast includes the right to ‘re-broadcast it or communicate it to the public otherwise than by broadcasting it’.[23] This applies to both wireless and wired transmissions and, therefore, provides broadcasters with broader rights than required internationally. In this regard, the Explanatory Memorandum to the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999 (Cth) explained that the amendment to broadcast copyright was

intended to extend the current re-broadcasting right which only applies to wireless telegraphy to include the cable transmission of broadcasts and the making available online of broadcasts. The new right will therefore allow broadcasters to control the retransmission of their broadcasts irrespective of the means of delivery of the service.[24]

[19]International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, 26 October 1962, ATS 29 (entered into force on 18 May 1964).

[20] Ibid art 13(a).

[21] Ibid art 3(f).

[22] Ibid art 3(g).

[23]Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) s 87(c).

[24] Explanatory Memorandum, Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999 (Cth), [116].