The Australian Government has proposed to amend the Copyright Act to allow the copyright owner to be forced to pay the copyright holder a fee.
It will also change the process for copyright holders to file copyright infringement cases.
The changes will come into effect from 1 July 2019.
The changes come as the copyright holders are increasingly concerned about how the new law will affect them.
Key points:The Copyright Amendment Bill will require the copyright owners to pay a fee to a person who has allegedly infringed the copyright The new law is currently the subject of a court challengeThe Australian Federal Police will now have the power to enforce the law on the grounds of copyright infringement, if they think there is a reasonable likelihood of convictionThe changes, which will be rolled out over a period of five years, will make it possible for copyright owners and their attorneys to file infringement cases directly with the copyright office.
The law currently gives copyright holders two years to appeal to a court, but under the amendments the court will now only have the powers to enforce copyright infringement.
The Copyright Amendment Act will also introduce an additional provision allowing the copyright industry to apply to the Copyright Tribunal for an order requiring the copyright violator to pay an “administrative fee”.
The Copyright Act states that: ”The copyright owner or an agent acting on behalf of the copyright rights holder shall be entitled to recover, in a civil action or a proceeding for an award of money, the administrative fee that has been assessed by the tribunal for the infringement of the rights of copyright under this Act.”
Under the amendments, copyright owners would have to apply for a fee of $50 to be assessed against them by the Copyright Office.
The fees collected would be used to pay for ”administrative services”, ”appropriate administrative costs” and ”an appropriate amount to be charged to the copyright infringer for the costs of investigating, adjudicating, and collecting the administrative fees”.
The Copyright Tribunal is charged with adjudicating copyright infringement complaints under the Copyright Acts.
It is charged to ”prosecute the infringement and obtain the award of damages from the person or parties alleged to have infringed”.
But it has been accused of a lack of independence.
“The Tribunal’s functions have been severely eroded by the introduction of the Copyright Amendment, which creates a new power for the Copyright Commissioner to demand fees from the copyright-holding parties and for the tribunal to apply these fees to the enforcement of copyright laws,” the copyright lobby group, the Authors Guild, said in a submission to the Government’s consultation on the bill.
“The Copyright Board of Australia is no longer able to exercise its statutory role of ensuring that its procedures are appropriate for the copyright industries.”
The new fee will be assessed on the basis of the following factors: the extent to which the infringer has engaged in conduct that constitutes copyright infringement; whether the infringement is likely to have a material adverse effect on the market for the copyrighted work; the nature and extent of the infringements; and the amount of the cost of the infringement.
The fee would also be assessed for a number of other factors including the degree of market access to the copyrighted material and the extent of potential for the work to be sold, imported, resold or otherwise exploited by third parties.
The Government said it was introducing the changes in response to concerns raised by the copyright sector.
A consultation is now open on the proposed amendments.