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Advance Australia Fair? The Copyright Reform Process

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Since the start of the millennium, the Australian federal government has engaged in repeated reforms of the nation's copyright laws as part of a broader response to the national and international challenges created by the advent of the internet and the wider digital revolution. This reform process has at times been both chaotic and confusing. Substantial amendments enacted in only 2001 to bring Australian copyright law into the digital age were changed substantially in response to the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) of 2004. Concurrent to meeting the obligations created by the AUSFTA, the Australian government also conducted several reviews with a view to introducing new user-based exceptions to copyright infringement in an attempt to balance Australia's increasingly copyright-owner-focused legislation. These changes were enacted as part of the Copyright Amendment Act 2006 (Cth). However, any benefit that these new exceptions created for copyright users and consumers has arguably been outweighed by the implementation of stronger technological protection measures and digital rights management protection and criminal sanctions that have been accompanied by few exceptions for legitimate use. Now, at the end of an often rushed and inadequately debated reform process, few parties are expressing satisfaction with the resulting amendments.
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Keywords: copyright; freetrade; reform

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of New South Wales

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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