A House of Reps Committee has recommended some significant changes to copyright and competition law to limit the difference in prices that people in Australia pay for copyright material in comparison with people in other countries (including recorded music, eBooks and games)

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has published its report At what cost? IT pricing and the Australia Tax

For the purposes of the review, "IT" was given a very broad definition – one which included music, computer games and books as well as software

The Committee found that Australians often pay more for a range of products than people in other countries, and also that major online vendors and copyright holders implemented regional pricing strategies that prejudiced people in Australia

As a result, the Committee made a number of recommendations in relation to copyright:

  • rolling back all parallel importation restrictions (Recommendation 4);
  • amending the Copyright Act to make sure that people can circumvent any technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation (Recommendation 5);
  • giving consideration to introducing a “right of resale” for digital content, and clarifying that “fair use rights” are available for consumers, businesses and educational institutions (Recommendation 7); and
  • as a last resort, considering an outright ban on geoblocking (Recommendation 9).

The Committee also made a number of recommendations in relation to the Competition and Consumer Act were:

  • repealing section 51(3) of the Act that exempts certain intellectual property licensing conditions from the competition provisions of that Act (and therefore also from the supervision of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)); and
  • that the Government investigate amending that Act so that contracts or terms of service that seek to enforce geoblocking are considered void.

These recommendations should be viewed in the context of other, separate reviews on copyright issues – the Australian Law Reform Commission's enquiry into the adequacy and appropriateness of copyright exceptions in relation to the digital economy, and the enquiry by the Attorney-General's Department into the scope of exceptions relating to technological protection measures

The Committee's report is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committee/house_of_representatives_committees?url=ic/itpricing/report.htm If you would like advice on issues such as parallel importation of copyright material and online licensing, contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson or Ian McDonald (Special Counsel, Copyright) at Simpsons Solicitors