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Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Page: 2753


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure) (12:10): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The digital age has fundamentally altered the way Australians engage with copyright. Content is more accessible than ever before. While this brings with it unique challenges for the protection of copyright, it also provides profound opportunities for creators and consumers alike. Respect for the creative efforts and economic rights of creators is essential to a properly functioning copyright regime. At the same time, if we are to harness the opportunities and respond to the challenges presented by the digitisation of content, it is critical that Australia's copyright laws are also flexible and facilitate fair access to, and use of, content.

The Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2017 responds to views expressed by copyright stakeholders. They have said that reform is needed to address outdated, prescriptive and overly complex provisions of the Copyright Act. They also said that these provisions impact unfairly on the ability of libraries, archives and educational institutions, and persons with a disability, to access and use copyright material. The bill is designed to be technology- and format-neutral so that these important reforms will remain relevant in an environment of rapid technological change.

Disability access p rovisions

I turn first to the disability access provisions. Even with the vast amount of digital content made available online, the great majority of published material worldwide is not presently accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired or who have a disability that affects the way a person reads, views, hears or comprehends copyright material. This bill therefore puts in place a consolidated, flexible exception for use by organisations that assist people with a disability. The bill also introduces a fair dealing provision for people with a disability.

These measures reflect the government's commitment to improving accessibility for persons with a disability following the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty on 10 December 2015. They bring Australia in line with global best practice to provide a flexible copyright framework that recognises the various ways people with a disability use accessible format content. These measures are designed to be format-neutral to ensure that Australians with a print disability will be able to continue to have fair and equal access to material in line with technological advancements.

Library and a rchive exceptions

Let me now describe the library and archive exemptions in the bill. The digital era offers us the chance to preserve copyright materials in ways that were not available, and therefore not contemplated, under the existing Act. For this reason, the bill replaces the current preservation copying provisions in the act with simpler, uniform provisions that give libraries, archives and key cultural institutions greater flexibility in preserving the material in their collections.

The new preservation provisions will apply to libraries accessible to members of the public, parliamentary libraries, archives (including the archives of museums and galleries) and prescribed key cultural institutions that hold copyright material of historical or cultural significance to Australia. There are currently three prescribed key cultural institutions: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation and the Australian National University Archives Program.

The new provisions enable libraries and archives to make, if necessary, multiple copies of copyright material in a version or format that is in line with best practice preservation policy, if a copy of the material cannot be obtained in a version or format that is required for preservation. These changes remove the restrictions in the current act under which preservation copies of published material can only be made after the material has suffered damage, has deteriorated, or is lost or stolen. The new provisions will enable libraries and archives to take a proactive approach to the preservation of the material in their collections for future generations without infringing copyright.

Further, the measures introduced by this bill will allow the public to have greater access to the copyright materials held in the collections of libraries and archives for research purposes. The bill includes measures to ensure that preservation and research copies of copyright material in electronic form can be made available for access by a person at the library or archives, provided that the library or archives take reasonable steps to ensure that the person accessing that copy does not infringe copyright in that copy. The measures are technology and format neutral, ensuring that organisations and institutions can use the best and most effective preservation methods in line with technological advancement.

Educational provisions

I now turn to the educational provisions in the bill. These will streamline the educational statutory licence provisions for the copying and communication of works and broadcasts for educational purposes, and permit the use of copyright material for online examinations. The intention is to reduce red tape and adapt to technological advancement.

These reforms include consolidating and simplifying the existing provisions relating to educational use of works and broadcasts and providing greater flexibility for educational institutions and collecting societies in their negotiations for licensing and access arrangements for copyright material. The measures appropriately balance the interests of copyright owners and the needs of educational institutions. At the same time, they remove the cumbersome and unnecessary mandatory report-keeping requirements of the existing educational statutory licences scheme.

The changes to the educational statutory licensing provisions also consolidate the framework for the operation of declared collecting societies. They do this by specifying the requirement for bodies seeking to be declared as collecting societies under the Copyright Act and the circumstances in which such declarations may be revoked. The bill empowers the Copyright Tribunal to determine questions relating to this new educational statutory licence scheme, upon application by either party.

The bill also extends the operation of existing provisions that permit the use of hardcopy material by educational institutions for the purposes of examination to allow the use of copyright material for online examinations. This extension will expand the ways in which examinations are delivered to students and assist our educators to operate competitively in the digital education era.

Term of protection for unpublished material

Let me now turn to the provisions regarding the term of protection for unpublished material. These are directed at facilitating access to culturally important content. They are aimed at aligning the terms of protection for unpublished materials with published materials. Currently, if copyright materials are unpublished, they remain in copyright in perpetuity, so their productive uses may be lost. By contrast, generally the copyright in a published work subsists for 70 years from the death of the author or, if the work was not published until after the death of the author, for 70 years from first publication. Currently, copyright in a published sound recording or film subsists for 70 years from first publication.

The bill harmonises the copyright term for works (including a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work) by creating a new standard term of 70 years from the death of the author, irrespective of whether the relevant work has or has not been made public. This means that an unpublished work will have the same term of copyright protection as a published work. Where the identity of the author remains generally unknown, or the work is made by an international organisation to which the act applies, the standard copyright term will be 70 years from when it is made. However, if this work is made public within 50 years of being created, the copyright term will be 70 years from first being made public. For sound recordings and films, a standard copyright term of 70 years from the year in which the material is made will apply. However, if the sound recording or film is made public within 50 years of being made, the copyright term will be 70 years from first being made public.

Libraries, archives and other cultural institutions hold large volumes of unpublished materials which are an important part of Australia's cultural heritage. Setting a term of protection for unpublished materials will give these institutions greater opportunities to deal with unpublished materials. It will also improve access to important Australian historical and cultural materials that were not previously available to the public.

The new copyright terms will commence on 1 January 2019 and will apply to copyright material created before 1 January 2019 that remains unpublished (or otherwise not made public) at that date. These new copyright terms are consistent with the requirements under international conventions and agreements to which Australia is a party. This will also bring Australia into line with jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the European Union, where all works have a copyright term, whether they are published or not.

This bill is an important step in simplifying Australia's existing copyright framework, in response to specific challenges and concerns identified by copyright stakeholders and sectors of the community. The bill enables the law to respond more flexibly to the constant technological changes in the digital age by ensuring that these sectors and the wider Australian community have fair and reasonable access to copyright material.

Debate adjourned.