The recording industry has welcomed the government’s decision not to extend so-called “safe harbour” protection to the likes of Google and Facebook. But the battle for a fairer copyright environment is far from done.

As previously reported, the Australian Government is reforming our copyright laws once more, and — in a move that bucks the trend seen in other markets — safe harbour immunity won’t be granted to tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

That’s exactly what the content industries have pleaded for. Under safe harbour protection in the U.S. and Europe, businesses such as search engines and aggregators can’t be held liable for customers’ infringements on their platforms provided they offer a takedown system for removing disputed works. In those scenarios, big tech firms have managed to undermine the commercial market so that music is “significantly undervalued and underpaid,” ARIA has warned in the past.

The trade body takes some comfort from the latest developments from Canberra

“It is a positive development that the Government has recognised that any reform to safe harbour must make sure the rights of creators are properly protected and does not undermine the ability for creators to receive a fair return for their work,” ARIA CEO Dan Rosen tells TIO in a statement.

ARIA, Rosen adds, is “currently reviewing the proposed changes and look forward to engaging with the Government to ensure that any changes to the Act do not have an adverse impact on creators’ rights and their ability to earn a living from their artistic endeavors.”

With the Copyright Amendment Bill being debated in the Australian parliament earlier this year, ARIA and Music Rights Australia formed a united front with organizations from across the content, media and sporting industries to lobby for a rethink on extending those controversial “safe harbour” protections. Earlier proposed amendments to the Copyright Act were slapped down as poorly conceived, woefully inadequate and riddled with failings and the government was accused of failing to adequately consult with the copyright industries.

Discussing the latest draft of the copyright reform legislation, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said safe harbour protection would initially be extended to organisations that “provide beneficial services to all Australians and who are working collaboratively with copyright owners to address infringement”.  Libraries, educational and cultural institutions are among the organisations reportedly protected by the new laws.

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