The Turnbull government will hold further discussions with stakeholders prior to introducing legislation on the extension of the safe harbour provisions of the Copyright Act.
The extension of the safe harbour regime “would provide a useful mechanism for rights holders to have material that infringes on their copyright removed from online service providers”, a statement from the government said, and also protect online service providers, not just internet service providers.
Extending the provisions would also ensure service providers are not held responsible for their users’ infringements, provided they have taken reasonable steps to take down the offending materials.
A statement from minister for communications and the arts Mitch Fifield’s office noted the safe harbour provisions had been the subject of inquiry and debate for over a decade and acknowledged more consultation was needed.
“The government is proceeding carefully to ensure the legislation achieves its objectives. Undertaking these additional consultations will provide a further opportunity for matters of concern to be conveyed to the government,” the statement said.
“The government’s intention is to develop safe harbour legislation that encourages the growth of Australia’s digital economy, supports a thriving and vibrant creative sector, while supporting the interests of copyright holders.”
Heather Smith, secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts will oversee a series of meetings and roundtable discussions with stakeholders on the proposed changes as part of the consultation. The Department has been instructed to provide advice to the government by early June.
The statement also flagged the government’s other copyright reforms: “These include legislating provisions to enable websites promoting piracy to be blocked and reforms currently before the Parliament to improve access to works for people with disabilities, reforms to educational licensing provisions and changes to improve the ability of libraries and archives to make preservation copies of materials and access unpublished works.”