27 November, 2006

Australia’s copyright laws

New Copyright Laws Risk Criminalising Everyday Australians.

The Internet Industry Association today warned that changes to Australia’s copyright laws being rushed through Parliament risked making criminals out of everyday Australians.

The IIA which represents a broad range of internet businesses in Australia, in conjunction with the QUT Law Faculty Intellectual Property Research Program, has identified a number of scenarios which could trip up Australians in their everyday use of copyrighted materials.

Said IIA chief executive, Peter Coroneos: “We can’t be sure if this is the government's intent, or whether there has been a terrible oversight in the drafting of this Bill. Either way, the consequences for the average Australian family could be devastating.”

“As an example,” said Mr Coroneos, “a family who holds a birthday picnic in a place of public entertainment (for example, the grounds of a zoo) and sings ‘Happy Birthday’ in a manner that can be heard by others, risks an infringement notice carrying a fine of up to $1320. If they make a video recording of the event, they risk a further fine for the possession of a device for the purpose of making an infringing copy of a song. And if they go home and upload the clip to the internet where it can be accessed by others, they risk a further fine of up to $1320 for illegal distribution. All in all, possible fines of up to $3960 for this series of acts – and the new offences do not require knowledge or improper intent. Just the doing of the acts is enough to ground a legal liability under the new ‘strict liability’ offences.”



15 minute podcast: Professor Brian Fitzgerald and Peter Coroneos discuss the implications of Australia's impending new copyright laws (right click to download mp3 file).

The IIA in conjunction with QUT Intellectual Property Law Research Program has compiled these risk analyses of how teenagers, families and small businesses could be liable under the proposed changes to Australia's copyright laws. Download the risk analysis for teenagers, the risk analysis for families, the risk analysis for small businesses and the risk analysis for industry (all in pdf format).

The proposed changes to the Bill can be found by visitng http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/ then clicking on "browse" > "legislation" > "current bills by title" > "Copyright amendment bill 2006".

If you would like to express your concern over the proposed changes, please write to the Attorney-General, the Hon. Phillip Ruddock, at

PO Box 1866
Hornsby Westfield NSW 1635


PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Or call:

Telephone at parliament house: (02) 6277 7300
Telephone at electorate office: (02) 9482 7111

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