Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017

Parliament House, Canberra.

Mr DREYFUS (Isaacs—Deputy Manager of Opposition Business) (18:54):  Labor supports the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017, the purpose of which is to expand the operation of the legal safe harbour scheme set out in the Copyright Act 1968 to a broader range of service providers. Labor has long advocated for the change that is brought about by this bill, and we have worked with the government to bring this bill forward. The existing safe harbour scheme established by the Copyright Act protects carriage service providers—in particular internet service providers such as Telstra and Optus—from the civil liability that they would otherwise be exposed to for hosting or communicating material that infringes copyright. To be able to rely on this legislated safe harbour created by the Copyright Act, the carriage service provider needs to demonstrate that they operate a scheme for removing copyright-infringing material if they are notified of such material by a rights holder. Such processes are, of course, popularly known as takedown processes.

This legislation will extend the legislated safe harbour scheme beyond carriage service providers to include, first, educational institutions through their administering bodies, including universities, schools, technical colleges, training bodies and preschools. The bill also extends the safe harbour scheme to libraries that either make their collection available to the public or are parliamentary libraries through their administering bodies; to archives through their administering bodies, including the National Archive of Australia and specified state archives, galleries and museums; to key cultural institutions through their administering bodies, including specific archives and libraries that are not open to the public; and, finally, to organisations assisting persons with a disability. The extension of the safe harbour scheme pursuant to this bill is generally supported by rights holders and their peak groups because it provides a social good without undermining the commercial interests of content creators or their capacity to negotiate effectively with commercial enterprises for the distribution of their copyright materials.

Labor has consulted widely on this bill, as indeed has the government. We support the bill because it will provide greater legal protections for our schools, for our universities and for our libraries and cultural institutions to operate efficiently in the digital age. At the same time, this bill balances the interests of rights holders with those of the important educational and cultural institutions that will benefit from the extended protections provided under the expanded safe harbour scheme. This is in part because the entities protected by the expanded safe harbour scheme established by this bill do not benefit financially from the use of content on their networks, and so these reforms cannot be said in any way to distort the commercial market. Labor supports this bill as making balanced and reasonable reform to copyright law and we will continue consultations with stakeholders on whether further changes to the legislated safe harbour scheme under the Copyright Act may be desirable.