Most Australians infringe copyright daily. It’s as easy as posting a video of your kids singing a popular song to social media or forwarding an email.
Most Australians also benefit from fair use daily, without even realising it. When you visit a Wikipedia page that includes an image hosted under fair use, or search for something online – you are benefiting from fair use. Unfortunately the services that make these activities possible have to be based overseas, in countries that have fair use, because they would be illegal here in Australia.
Did you know?
When you store your documents in cloud storage or use an online translator you should thank fair use – these technologies were developed under and use the USA’s fair use exception.
Because fair use concentrates on what it fair, it can keep pace with changes in technology. Australian law is the exact opposite – it drags its feet and refuses to accommodate new technologies or behaviours until the government finds time to make legislative changes. This is why it was illegal to tape television shows until 2006 in Australia.
The current system also relies on the government getting the legislation right, which doesn’t always happen. For example, in Australia you can legally backup your VHS tapes but not your DVDs, because the legislation specifically mentions “videotape”. And one thing is clear – new consumer-focused electronic services are unlikely to emerge in Australia unless the law changes.
Consumer and digital rights groups have long pointed out that Australia’s current copyright exceptions are failing everyday citizens. New technologies can enable consumers choices about when, where, and how to use content. But without reform, copyright law works to frustrate them.
“Australian copyright law as it stands doesn’t take into account existing technologies, let alone anticipate new ones. This is why CHOICE supports Fair Use copyright”
Australian copyright law is laughably out of date. It is ridiculous that in 2017 everytime you share a meme, or post photos of yourself that you didn’t take, or use an online translation tool – you are potentially breaking the law.
Want to know more?
This video from the Creationistas is a good introduction to how copyright law fails Australian consumers.
The results from this Choice survey shows how out of line our copyright law is with consumer understanding and expections.