Government announces economic analysis of ALRC copyright recommendations

Yesterday, the Government announced that it has commissioned an economic analysis of some of the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its Copyright and the Digital Economy Report.

The ALRC’s report, which was publicly released in February 2014, made a number of recommendations for reform of Australian Copyright law.  One of the key recommendations was the introduction of a “fair use” exception to copyright infringement and the repeal of existing “fair dealing” exceptions. If fair use was not introduced, in the alternative, the ALRC proposed the introduction of a single fair dealing exception with some additional categories of fair dealing.  (For a more detailed summary, see our previous alert on the ALRC report here).

Upon the public release of the ALRC’s Report, the Attorney General stated that the Abbott Government was keen in its first term of Government to “modernise, reform and contemporise the Copyright Act”.   Since that time, the Government has released the Online Copyright Infringement Discussion paper and conducted a public consultation aimed at tackling online infringement (see our summary here) and on 22 June 2014, the Senate passed amendments to the Copyright Act which empowered the Federal Court of Australia to order ISPs implement website blocking injunctions where an online location has the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright (see our summary here).

Yesterday’s announcement of the economic analysis indicates the Government’s intention to engage in further copyright review and possibly reform.  The Government’s announcement specifically notes the ALRC’s fair use and fair dealing recommendations and states that the economic analysis will “consider the financial effect of these broad policy options on both Australian copyright rights holders and copyright user groups”.