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Consumers and computer industry benefit from copyright changes.

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News Release

The Hon Daryl Williams, AM QC MP




Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate


13 August 1999




Consumers will have greater choice in computer software and Australian-developed software will be more internationally competitive as a result of new legislation passed yesterday.


The Attorney-General, the Hon Daryl Williams AM QC MP and Senator the Hon Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts announced today that passage of the Copyright Amendment (Computer Programs) Bill 1999 will allow software engineers to decompile computer software in limited circumstances so they can develop interoperable products.


Currently software copyright owners can block this type of decompilation as an infringement of copyright.


New laws mean developers will be able to decompile software to find this vital interface information if it is not readily available.


Overseas developers have been able to do this for some time, particularly in Europe and the United States of America where Australia’s main competitors in this sector are located.


The amendments to the Copyright Act confirm that the Australian Government is committed to creating an environment that is conducive to increasing the competitiveness of Australian business and providing choice for consumers.


The legislation also recognises that Australia’s information industries underpin competitiveness of other industry sectors, particularly in the global economy.


The legislation also makes changes to the Copyright Act important for the development of the information economy in Australia.


The information age brings with it new threats to our safety and security - such as computer viruses and increasing incidence of unauthorised access to valuable information stored digitally.


The legislation will help companies protect their valuable digital assets by providing another tool with which to deal with these threats.


In recognition of the importance of resolving the year 2000 computer date (Y2K)

problem, the legislation will operate retrospectively for error correction to the date of

the announcement of the Government’s decision, 23 February 1999.


Decompilation of a program will be allowed without the copyright owner’s permission for interoperability or security testing only if the information on the program’s interfaces or on ensuring system security is not readily available.


Information derived from decompilation of a program about its interfaces with other software or about errors in a defective copy, including Y2K problems, or which is required for testing system secunty cannot be used or communicated to others for any other purpose, without the copyright owner’s permission.


The severe penalties for copyright piracy will continue to apply. These penalties comprise up to $60,500 and / or five years in prison for each offence by an individual and up to $302,500 for each offence by a corporation.



jk  1999-08-16  11:09