Australian Productivity Commission calls for copyright shakeup

The SMH reports:

The Productivity Commission has recommended the free import of books, the free use of copyrighted material under new so-called “fair use” rules, a leglislated guarantee that consumers have the right to defeat internet geoblockers and much tighter restrictions on the granting and use of , under reforms it says could save consumers up to $1 billion a year.

Consumers should also have a legislated right to defeat internet geoblocks set by such companies as Amazon, it says.

Subtitled Copy(not)right, the draft report of the commission’s nine-month inquiry into intellectual property finds terms are way in excess of what is needed, offering more than 100 years of protection for works that ought to be protected for 15 to 20 years.

The NZ Government should look seriously at this report when reviewing our copyright laws. If intellectual property laws are too tight, they damage the economy, just as they do if they are too loose also. Overall the laws are too tight.

Protecting intellectual property for over 100 years is silly. There won’t be one less invention or work because it was protected for say only 30 years instead of 100.

It backs proposals to introduce an open-ended and non-prescriptive right of “fair use” of copyrighted material that would allow many uses presently illegal in Australia, including the use of thumbnail images by search engines, the “quotation” of lyrics or song fragments in songs, the use of politicians’ jingles by their opponents in election advertisements, and the use of extracts from films in documentaries.

Fair use is essential to a country. Without it you couldn’t quote what anyone says.

The report says Australia’s patent rules are too lax, requiring claimed inventors to provide evidence of a “mere scintilla of invention” in order to lock up the use of their ideas. Patent fees should be higher and applicants should be required to explain why their ideas are not obvious, it says.

Many patents seem to be about blocking innovation rather than fostering it.

Consumers should have a legislated right to defeat geoblocks imposed by companies such as Netflix and Amazon in order to prevent Australians buying products sold overseas. The law that at present prevents Australian retailers importing books without the permission of local publishers should be repealed in the same way as the laws preventing the import of music without local publishers were repealed.

A great proposal. NZ should follow.

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