Australia’s music industry has welcomed the government’s decision to scrap the controversial safe harbour from its copyright reforms. Though the job is far from done.
As previously reported, the country’s content industries were at odds with the Turnbull government over its proposed Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2015, and in particular the draft’s Schedule 2 which contained provisions to extend “safe harbour” immunity to tech giants like Google and Facebook.
A cadre of organisations from across the content, media and sporting industries lobbied for a rethink on Schedule 2, and they got their wish when it was dropped before an introduction to parliament earlier this week.
Music Rights Australia, one of those organizations which had actively opposed those safe harbour changes, is “pleased that the Government has taken this first step and removed Schedule 2 from the Bill,” comments Vanessa Hutley, General Manager of MRA, in a statement issued to The Industry Observer. “This means the other uncontroversial aspects of the Bill can progress as we have always believed they should.”
Hutley also reiterated calls for the government to now consult and engage with rights owners. “It is now timely for the Government to direct the Department of Communications and the Arts to undertake a full evidenced- based review of the safe harbour scheme so it reflects the current digital environment,” she adds.
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.
According to The Australian, Dan Rosen, chief executive of the Australian Recording Industry Association, described the government’s decision to remove the amendment as a “positive development”.