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Australian CLRC Report Released

This report is of great interest to those who are concerned about the 
relationships between copyright and contracts (which is most, we hope).
The Moderators



Today, the Attorney-General released the CLRC's report on Copyright and
Contract, calling it "a topical and scholarly report that confirms
Australia's position at the cutting-edge of copyright law reform".

Following a year-long inquiry into the complex relationship between
copyright and contract law, the CLRC has found that private agreements are
being used to set the terms and conditions of access to, and use of,
copyright material. The CLRC expresses the view that this is creating a
displacement of the copyright balance and makes 6 recommendations for

The central recommendation of the Committee is that the Copyright Act 1968
be amended to prevent the exclusion or modification of exceptions
identified as being fundamental to the copyright interest in Australia,

* fair dealing for purposes of research or study, criticism or review,
  reporting news, and giving professional advice;

* library and archives exceptions; and

* exceptions designed to promote the proper functioning of technology, such
  as those allowing works and other subject matter to be temporarily
  reproduced in the course of communication.

The Committee also recommends that the integrity of the permitted purpose
provisions introduced by the 2000 Digital Agenda reforms be retained by
preventing a copyright owner from making it a condition of access to his
or her copyright material that users will not avail themselves of a
circumvention device or service for the permitted purpose of doing an act
that is not an infringement of copyright under the Act.

In undertaking the Copyright and Contract reference, the CLRC was
concerned to consult with a range of interests. The Committee received 36
submissions from stakeholders within the library, educational, music, and
information technology sectors as well as from interests within academia,
government and other areas. The experience and views of submitters formed
an integral component of the Committee's inquiry. In addition to this, the
Committee examined academic commentary and undertook its own empirical

The Government intends to give the report careful consideration and
respond during the first half of 2003.

For further information, see the CLRC website:  http://www.ag.gov.au/clrc

Copies of the report are available from Government Information shops and
on-line at http://www.ag.gov.au/clrc

An Overview of the Work of the CLRC

The CLRC was established in 1983 by the Attorney-General as a specialist
advisory body to report to the Government on specific copyright issues
referred to it from time to time. It is supported by a permanent
secretariat within the Attorney-General's Department.

Since that time, the CLRC has become a well-respected law reform body,
having produced reports on a diverse range of topics. Past CLRC references
have examined issues relating to the jurisdiction and procedures of the
Copyright Tribunal, moral rights, simplification of the Copyright Act,
computer software protection and performers' protection. Many of these
reports have been influential on the development of Australian copyright

Membership of the CLRC

As an independent specialist advisory committee to Government, CLRC
members are appointed on the basis of their expertise in areas relevant to
the specific issue under inquiry. Professor James Lahore chaired the
Committee for the latest reference into Copyright and Contract. Professor
Lahore has been at the forefront of the development of intellectual
property law in Australia and has over 30 years experience in this area as
a legal practitioner and academic.

Committee members are also appointed to the CLRC from a range of sectoral
interests. For example, the membership of the latest Committee consisted
of representatives from copyright owner and user groups as well as
academia and government. Ms Maureen Barron (General Manager, Corporate of
the Southern Star Group) and Dr Warwick A. Rothnie (Barrister and formerly
a partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques solicitors) were appointed to the
Committee as representatives of copyright owner groups. Copyright users
were represented by Mr Charles C. Britton (Senior Policy Officer, IT and
Communications, Australian Consumers' Association). Mr Thomas Cochrane
(Pro-Vice Chancellor (Library and Academic Services), Queensland
University of Technology) was appointed to represent the specific
interests of the library and educational sector; while Professor Michael D
Pendleton from Murdoch University also provided expertise on this complex
issue. The Government's interests were also represented by Mr Chris
Creswell, copyright consultant and former head of the Intellectual
Property Branch of the Attorney-General's Department.

It is expected that a new Committee will shortly be appointed to carry out
a new inquiry.