Media Release

18 August 2004

Urgent copyright reform needed to counter FTA

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today called for the immediate implementation of a number of long-standing recommendations for copyright reform so as to offset some of the worst aspects of the Australia - United States Free Trade Agreement.

"There are a lot of changes to Australian copyright law coming into effect because of the FTA, but not one of them will benefit consumers," said EFA board member Dale Clapperton. "There's been no suggestion that consumers or technology users stand to gain anything in this regard, so the need for consumer oriented reform has now reached the stage of urgency."

Over the years, numerous bodies including the Copyright Law Review Committee have recommended changes to address anomalies in Australian copyright laws and to provide some protection for consumers against the ever-increasing power of copyright controllers. Most recently, the Digital Agenda Review, the Senate FTA Committee and the Treaties Committee have all recommended reforms to repair some of the draconian aspects of Australian copyright law.

"Under Australian law, people taping the Olympics on TV to watch later can be sued for breach of copyright. Those who transfer their music CDs onto portable music devices such as an iPod are also infringing copyright. Under the FTA, they may even be open to criminal prosecution," said Clapperton. "By passing the copyright amendments demanded by the US, our Parliament has moved the situation past the point of absurdity. When will Australian consumers be allowed to play their legitimately bought CDs or video games without falling foul of the law?"

EFA calls upon all the Government and Opposition parties to immediately implement Copyright Law Review Committee recommendations by introducing:

  • Flexible fair use rights similar to the US
  • Protection against agreements that modify or exclude copyright exceptions

With the implementation of the FTA, the enactment of these overdue reforms has become an imperative. Flexible fair use rights are necessary to protect legitimate consumer activities from the broad scope and punitive nature of the regime being ushered in by the FTA. Fair use rights will finally allow consumers to do things such as recording a TV show for later viewing or converting old vinyl records to CD format. These reforms are essential to alleviate the current situation where Australians are regularly and often unknowingly infringing copyright.

"The need for these reforms is clear," said Clapperton. "The reviews and studies have been done and the recommendations have been made. Now it's time for action."

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About EFA:

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. ("EFA") is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contacts:

Mr Dale Clapperton
EFA Board Member
Phone: 0416 007 100
Email: dclapperton at    
Mr Kimberley Heitman
EFA Board Member
Phone: 0439 938 233
Email: kheitman at

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc --
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