There are a number of factors that contribute to online copyright infringement in Australia. These factors include the availability and affordability of lawful content, the ease with which consumers can access unlawful material and consumer awareness of legitimate services. Accordingly, any response to online copyright infringement cannot just come from government. Action is also required from rights holders, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and ultimately consumers as well.
Online copyright infringement by individuals has been a long standing issue, with Australians commonly identified as having high illegal download rates.2 Infringement has been facilitated on a commercial scale through dedicated websites, predominantly based overseas.
Australia also has international obligations to provide protections for copyrighted material. These include bilateral free trade agreements with countries like the United States and Singapore, and multilateral treaties made under the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization.
This paper outlines the Government’s proposed approach to amending the Copyright Act 1968 to provide a legal framework within which rights holders, ISPs and consumer representatives can develop flexible, fair and workable approaches to reducing online copyright infringement. This framework aims to provide certainty as to legal liability, streamline the process by which rights holders can seek relief from the courts to block access to websites providing infringing material, and provide an incentive for market participants to work together to address online copyright infringement.
Online copyright infringement remains relatively strong in Australia, but is falling internationally. This paper therefore seeks views on other actions that may assist in reducing online copyright infringement in the future.