Wikipedians Join Push For Fair Use In Australia After Six Government Reports Recommend It

from the how-many-more-do-politicians-need? dept

People in Australia have been asking for the introduction of fair use as part of a broader copyright reform for a long time. Techdirt first wrote about it four years ago, then again last year, when the Australian Law Reform Productivity Commission produced one of the best reports ever written on the topic by a government body. Amazingly, most of its ideas, including a call for fair use, survived in the final version of that document, which appeared at the beginning of this year.

However, it turns out that those are just a few of the six Australian government reports which have recommended adopting fair use for copyright in Australia. That emerges from a new entry on the English-language Wikipedia, called "History of fair use proposals in Australia". Its appearance is not simply down to some random urge to wiki: it's part of a new campaign by Wikipedians in Australia to put pressure on the government there to bring in fair use after so many official calls to do so. A post on the Wikimedia blog explains the current copyright situation in Australia:

all copying requires permission unless you are only using an insubstantial part of a copyrighted work (which is typically very hard to judge), or the Copyright Act provides a specific exception. The most important exceptions, the fair dealing exceptions, cover research, study, criticism, review, parody, satire, reporting the news, and professional advice as long as the use is "fair". Any use not for one of these purposes will be illegal, no matter how fair or reasonable it is, unless the government introduces a specific exception for it.

The post also points out ways in which Australia suffers as a result of the lack of fair use, for example:

Australian schools end up paying millions of dollars each year to use publicly accessible online content on websites that you use at home for free. No one is asking to be paid for using these websites, and the money rarely makes it to the copyright owner. Just as importantly, the use is transformative and socially beneficial. But because the Act doesn't say such uses are allowed, payment still has to be made.

As part of the campaign to raise awareness of fair use and its benefits, Wikipedians in Australia are adding a banner on the English Wikipedia, and Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Australian Digital Alliance have also set up a new site called Fair Copyright. It would be nice to think that all this hard work would lead to the recommendations of those Australian government reports being implemented at last. But as Techdirt noted last month, the copyright industry has built up a fund of $11 million specifically to fight changes to copyright law in Australia, so we can expect fierce resistance to any such moves.

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Filed Under: australia, copyright, fair use


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  1. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 6:06am

    No one is asking to be paid for using these websites, and the money rarely makes it to the copyright owner.

    Where does it go?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    The standard 2 places: High Executive Salaries for the collection services; and LOTS of campaign contributions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Wittylama (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 6:37am

    Re:

    The unofficial answer, revealed recently, is that they've been keeping it in a "fighting fund" - to lobby against Fair Use. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/copyright-agency-diverts-funds-meant-for-autho rs-to-15m-fighting-fund-20170420-gvol0w.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re:

    Funny isn't it that all these groups and companies that claim to be working for the poor starving artists pay large salaries, and make good profits, while the majority of artists remain poor and starving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Kronomex, 26 May 2017 @ 3:24pm

    How dare the little peons ask for Fair Use! Our gubmint is beholden to the golden pig troughs of the corporations and Rupert (all hail the Rupert). The reports might reccommend fair use but donations and Rupert (hail Rupert) speak louder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Bergman (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 4:53pm

    Given how the US hates foreign countries adopting Fair Use...

    Can we expect the USA to be listed in the Special 301 report for having it too, some day?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 27 May 2017 @ 2:58am

    Re:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    after world war 3, 27 May 2017 @ 4:25am

    yes after world war 3 they will be all gone. just like after world war 2 they got rid of the red flag man for cars so they could use them the way they were supposed to be used, for fast reliable transport instead of for driving behind a flag bearing man because of corruption and greed of the horse industry. yes, indeed, the copyright cartell will be dead after world war 3 starting in your neighbour hood right now. just ask trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Pat Aufderheide, 27 May 2017 @ 3:16pm

    Re: where does the money go?

    In the case of the $11M referred to, it actually goes to a war chest to create public campaigns against fair use and indeed any change in the exceptions policy. Note that the $15M referred to in teh artice linked here is in AUD. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/copyright-agency-diverts-funds-meant-for-autho rs-to-15m-fighting-fund-20170420-gvol0w.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    MrTroy (profile), 29 May 2017 @ 1:02am

    Re: Re: where does the money go?

    If you think about it, this is quite the grand money laundering scheme. They can't exactly pay the money to themselves directly... but who would complain about war chests fighting on behalf of the poor starving artists?

    How is the money used? Well, it pays for advertisements in traditional media outlets, and other ventures significantly owned by the people who wanted the money in the first place. All legal!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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