Terms of reference for ALRC copyright review released

Terms of reference for ALRC copyright review released

Terms of reference for ALRC copyright review released

Recently we reported on the proposed ALRC Review of Australian copyright law to be led by Professor Jill McKeough.

The final Terms of Reference for the proposed ALRC review have now been published and set a deadline of November, 2013 for a final report from the ALRC with recommendations for reform. It is anticipated that the ALRC will release an issues paper in August, 2012 which will then call for submissions from interested parties.

Are current copyright exceptions adequate in the digital environment?

The primary focus of the ALRC review is to consider whether the exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment. The ALRC will consider whether there should be additional exceptions which:

  1. cover “fair use”1 of copyright material;
  2. “allow transformative, innovative and collaborative use of copyright materials to create and deliver new products and services of public benefit”; and
  3. “allow appropriate access [to] use, interaction and production of copyright material online for social, private or domestic purposes”.

Limitations on scope of ALRC review

Reining in what could otherwise be described as broad Terms of Reference, the ALRC has been specifically directed to consider:

  1. the impact of any proposed legislative solutions on other areas of law and their consistency with Australia’s international obligations; and
  2. recommendations from related reviews, specifically the Government’s Convergence Review.2

The Terms of Reference also expressly direct the ALRC not to deal with the issues of:

  1. unauthorised distribution of copyright materials using peer to peer networks;
  2. the scope of the safe harbour scheme for ISPs;
  3. the exceptions applicable to technological protection measures; and
  4. increased access to copyright works for persons with a print disability.

Digital technologies create new opportunities for innovation

The Terms of Reference affirm that the objective of copyright law remains an incentive to create and disseminate copyright materials, but equally recognise the importance of the digital economy and the opportunities for innovation created by new digital technologies leading to national economic and cultural development.

Davies Collison Cave Law will continue to monitor and report on the progress of the ALRC review and invites stakeholders interested in discussing any of the issues or topics likely to be covered by the review or who might be considering a potential submission to the ALRC to contact us.


  1. Curiously the Terms of Reference use the U.S. term, in contrast to the term “fair dealing” which applies in Australia.
  2. Australian Government Report released on 30 April, 2012, proposing fundamental change to the regulatory frameworks applying to the converged media and communications landscape in Australia.