It's now half-way through the period the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has given for people to respond to its Discussion Paper on exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act

The Discussion Paper was released on 5 June, and responses are due by 31 July 2013

If enacted, the ALRC proposals would result in both a very much slimmed-down Copyright Act, and a radical shift in the way copyright applies in Australia

This is because the key recommendations include:

  • repealing most of the specific exceptions in the Copyright Act and replacing them with an open-ended exception for "fair use";
  • including a non-exhaustive illustrative list of when "fair use" might apply – such as "education" and "public administration"; and
  • repealing most of Australia's statutory licensing schemes – and particularly those for educational institutions, people with print disabilities and government.

If these recommendations become law, there is likely to be a considerable period of uncertainty while the new system beds down. This is because it may take some time for enough cases to go through the Australian courts to build up a body of case law that gives people guidance as to how the new approach will be interpreted, and how it will work in practice

It is also likely that, if implemented, the proposals would result in a significant redistribution of wealth and benefit from copyright material between creators and users. You can access the Discussion Paper at

For more information – and for advice on how the ALRC recommendations may affect you, and assistance in making a submission – contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson or Ian McDonald (Special Counsel, Copyright).