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Wednesday, 23 October 1912


Senator KEATING (Tasmania) .- On behalf of Senator Vardon, I move -

That at the end of sub-clause (6) the following words be added : - " but shall not apply to copies which have been purchased or made in some other part of

His Majesty's dominions to -which this Act extends without infringement of the rights of the owner of, the copyright there."


Senator Lynch - The honorable senator wishes to admit such copies to the Commonwealth ?


Senator KEATING - Where there has been no infringement.


Senator McGregor - And thus defeat the object of the Bill.


Senator KEATING - In what respect?


Senator McGregor - A man might go to another country, purchase a copy there, and bring it into the Commonwealth. It should be kept out, I say.


Senator KEATING - I really begin to totter in my belief that the Vice-President of the Executive Council understands the Bill with which he is dealing. As a matter of fact copyright in these things rests entirely on their copyright outside of Australia. Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council deny that? Copyright in Australia depends upon . copyright derived abroad. Here we are adopting an Imperial Act which may be applied throughout the whole of the British Dominions, and we are solemnly told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that we will defeat its object because these copies will not conform to the requirements of copyright in Australia. What are the peculiar provisions in this Bill that will be defeated ? Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council answer that question ? I have no objection to the honorable senator consulting the officers behind him.


Senator Needham - The honorable senator himself was guilty of consulting persons behind him when he occupied a seat on the Ministerial benches.


Senator KEATING - If the honorable senator thinks it is guilt, I have no objection to the Vice-President doing the same. What are the peculiar conditions in Australia that would be defeated by the insertion of this amendment?


Senator McGregor - I have answered that question already. The honorable senator is supporting an amendment that provides that if a work is purchased in some country where copyright is not infringed, it can be brought into the Commonwealth by any individual, and our law of copyright shall not apply to it.


Senator KEATING - The VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot have read the amendment, or he has not understood it.. It simply provides that this clause shall not apply to copies made or purchased in some other part of His Majesty's Dominions to which this measure extends.


Senator Guthrie - In Canada, for instance.


Senator KEATING - No, because this measure does not extend to Canada. Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council mean to say that there is some part of His Majesty's Dominions to which this measure extends in which persons might infringe the rights of the owner of a copyright?


Senator Guthrie - It may be that the copyright law in some parts of the British Dominions will not be as stringent as our own law.


Senator KEATING - Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council show me how in any portion of His Majesty's Dominions wherein this measure is applicable, it would be competent for anybody to provide copies of the character to which he has just referred ? Australia is a growing country, and one which to a large extent must for some years necessarily depend for the supply of many things that are copyrighted on other countries.


Senator Lynch - Is it not possible that a work might be granted copyright in another British Possession, though it would infringe our own copyright law?


Senator KEATING - That cannot be the case in a part of the British Dominions " to which this Act extends." The main provision of this measure is that it is a British enactment in the first instance. Any Dominion can adopt it, with certain modifications as to practice and procedure. The measure is not applicable in Canada unless Canada chooses to adopt it. If Canada did not adopt it, this amendment would not be applicable. But if Canada did adopt it, works copyright in Canada would be governed by this clause.


Senator Guthrie - The Act might be adopted in Canada by Order in Council.


Senator KEATING - In certain circumstances; but surely the honorable senator does not think that the adoption of the British Copyright Act by Order in Council in Canada would make it less operative than if it were passed by the Dominion Legislature.


Senator Lynch - Does the honorable senator hold that it is impossible to register a copyright work in any British Dominion that would infringe copyright registered in Australia? He will need to sustain that proposition in order to maintain the case for his amendment.


Senator KEATING - I am not here to give legal advice.


Senator Needham - The honorable senator is here as a senator.


Senator KEATING - Yes, and I say that, as far as this amendment is concerned, it would merely make our position in Australia such that the prohibition of importation of copies would not apply to those purchased or made in any portion of His Majesty's Dominions to which this measure is applicable.


Senator Ready - Does that make it applicable to Canada?


Senator KEATING - No, it does not. The position asked for in the amendment is that the particular provision with regard to the importation of copies shall not be applicable to copies that come from any part of His Majesty's Dominions to which this measure applies ; and if honorable senators will carefully read through the clause they will find that, unless the amendment be adopted, we may be shutting out importations from Great Britain itself. If the Government like to do that, the responsibility is theirs.







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