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Safe harbour scheme extended to libraries, cultural institutions

Australian libraries and cultural institutions will now be covered by the copyright safe harbour scheme, which protects them from being held liable when their online services are used by others to infringe copyright.

Last week, the federal government passed changes to the Copyright Amendment (Services Providers) Bill 2017 to protect institutions in the educational, cultural and disability sectors, including libraries, schools, universities and archives, as well as disability organisations. Prior to this, only telecommunications companies were covered under the legislation.

Communications minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement that the safe harbour scheme will protect these sectors from legal liability ‘where they can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to reduce copyright infringement on their online systems or networks’.

In March 2017, the government tabled Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2017, intending to simplify the use of copyright materials by libraries, educational institutions, archives and people with disabilities. The Bill had the broad support of the Copyright Agency and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). However, the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC) expressed disappointment that the Bill didn’t include safe harbour provisions. In April 2017, the federal government announced it would consult further on extending safe harbour provisions, then introduced the Bill with safe harbour provisions to parliament in December 2017. The government passed both bills in June 2018.



Category: Library news