I refer to Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 debate this week.
I support the call by Alan Fels and Fred Brenchley on today's Australian Financial Review editorial page: "proceed with the necessary changes on technology locks for the USFTA - but ensuring their use only to protect copyright - while delaying the new penalty and limited exception provisions for further review".
This approach - leaving out all but more-limited Technological Protection Measures (TPM) provisions - makes the minimum necessary amendments, while responding to diverse calls from industry, consumer, academic and legal commentators to avoid the unfair, confusing and unenforceable aspects of the rest of the proposed changes.
The current proposals understandably raise alarm among ordinary Australian families and kids. And by failing to deliver on the promise of harmonisation with consumer- and innovator-friendly aspects of US law, they weaken claims the US Free Trade Agreement offers any benefits for Australians. They would also arguably create unnecessary impediments for new Australian innovation and high tech business, such that any Australian "next Google" or "next MySpace" online business may be well advised to go offshore.
As Fels & Brenchley conclude, "complying with [intangible copyright] in the digital age with its host of new technologies will require widespread acceptance. Draconian personal fines and laughable restrictions are not the way to achieve it."
Copyright law certainly needs updating to deal with digital challenges and opportunities - but the current Bill won't improve acceptance, or resolve anomalies in a sustainable way. While some lawyers may look forward with anticipation to the new uncertainties being created, few others will thank you if this opportunity to deal carefully with the issues is hijacked by the Christmas rush.
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre
UNSW NSW 2052
Cc: Alan Fels, Gordon Renouf (CHOICE), Peter Coroneos (IIA)
T: +61 (0)2 9385 3589
F: +61 (0)2 9385 1778
M: +61 (0)414 731 249
E: d.vaile [at] unsw.edu.au
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