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Opposition gives in-principle support for copyright changes relating to the software industry.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

Robert McClelland MP

Shadow Attorney-General

Federal Member For Barton

Ph: (02) 9587 2344

 

Stephen Smith MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS

PH (08) 9377 3355

 

 

OPPOSITION GIVES IN-PRINCIPLE SUPPORT FOR COPYRIGHT

CHANGES RELATING TO THE SOFTWARE INDUSTRY

 

 

The Federal Opposition has given in-principle support to the Government’s Copyright Amendment (Computer Programs) Bill 1999 which will promote the interoperability of computer systems.

 

Under current copyright law, access to computer s oftware programs can be restricted so that it is extremely difficult to develop related or complementary programs which interface or interact with the primary program.

 

This is particularly relevant in the information technology area where there are only a few companies that control the major operating systems. If the current law is not changed those companies will retain a virtual monopoly in the development of software.

 

The current law potentially represents a significant impediment to Australian companies which are rapidly acquiring world recognition in the development of new software programs particularly in the information technology area.

 

Any question relating to copyright requires balancing the interests of the original owner of the intellectual property right against the Interests of the community in advancing the knowledge and technological base of society generally.

 

If intellectual property rights are not sufficiently protected there will be little incentive for companies to invest in the development of new technology. Or) the other hand, if those companies which have massive market power are allowed to exploit virtual monopolies then they will have the ability to exclude the development of competing products and technologies.

 

The Opposition will closely examine the Government’s legislation to ensure that an appropriate balance between those interests has been achieved.

 

 

22 April 1999

 

 

 

LK