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Copyright piracy and enforcement.

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31 March 1999




I am pleased to announce that I have given the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs a referenc e to examine copyright piracy and the enforcement of copyright in Australia.


This comprehensive inquiry will seek to uncover the extent of copyright piracy in Australia, as well as the extent of involvement, if there is any, of organised crime.


The chair of the committee is Mr Kevin Andrews MP. The inquiry will assist in establishing the facts and issues relating to protecting copyright in Australia into the new millennium, and will enable those industries and businesses that use copyright to bring forward their information and concerns.


I have asked the Committee to look at the legal and practical mechanisms available to copyright owners in protecting their copyright from infringement, and to consider whether the current criminal and civil law is adequate.


The Committee will also examine the administration of copyright enforcement, including the provisions for border interception of infringing copyright materials, the involvement of the police in infringement actions and the overall enforcement environment.


The terms of reference require the Committee to consider international obligations, operational priorities, the resources available to enforcement bodies, and, by reference to Commonwealth criminal law policy, the rights and liberties of citizens and fairness to accused persons.


Australia has international obligations to provide adequate protection of copyright, and I am proud of Australia’s record in combating the illicit production of copyright materials, but this does not mean that the Government is now ready to sit back and relax.


The environment for copyright protection is changing rapidly due to technological developments, increases in consumer spending on material protected by copyright and a range of changes in the legal and trading environment.


I am committed to ensuring that we continue reforming Australia’s legal framework to keep up with these challenges. I look forward to the results of the copyright enforcement inquiry.


Copies of the terms of reference of the inquiry can be found at the Committee ‘s web-site at .


Media contact: Nicholas Harford (02) 6277 7300