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Excepting the future 934 KB

Established almost exactly 300 years ago, the legal architecture of copyright presumes clear distinctions between creating and using a work and between handling and copying a work. Investing in physical assets like trucks and buildings to transport, house and market physical copyrighted goods like books and magazines has never attracted the application of copyright law. By contrast digital content cannot be handled without copying it. Thus in the digital world, the distinction between handling and copying a work has completely broken down. All handling of digital content, however helpful to society or rights holders, may prima facie be a breach of copyright, attracting liability to rights holders if they have not permitted it.

This situation is dysfunctional. It is not unlike the state of air-space law at the point at which the development of aviation had rendered it obsolete.

Australia needs a flexible copyright exception capable of permitting unanticipated innovations that are fair to rights holders, as well as an extension of safe harbour provisions to all intermediaries.

A companion report, Exceptional industries, reveals the economic contribution to Australia and other countries made by industries relying on such limitations and exceptions to copyright.

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