The recent decision against Optus, which found it was guilty of breaching the Copyright Act by broadcasting sports games via its TV Now service, could have wider implications for Cloud-based services, according to the executive officer of the Australian Digital Alliance.
Ellen Broad told Computerworld Australia that the Federal Court’s decision could also mean Cloud service providers could be found to be in breach of the Copyright Act if it copies and stores illegally obtained music or video recordings.
“If consumers are storing copies of music that have been downloaded unlawfully, perhaps because the copies that the Cloud service provider has to make for the Cloud has been gained via unauthorised file sharing, then there could be liability there,” she said.
Broad said while the US has measures built into its laws with copyright exemptions that protect Cloud service providers, Australia does not. This means other similar consumer Cloud-based services could also be targeted, according to Broad.
“The ability to take up new ways to record content to the Cloud, which is where we’re all going, could be stifled as a result of the decision. Instead, it’s suggesting that we need to license all of this content,” she said.
Broad said to ensure both consumers and Cloud service providers are protected, Australia needs to include flexible, open-ended exceptions into the Copyright Act. The Australian Law Reform Commission is conducting an inquiry that will review the exceptions in the Copyright Act.
However, Broad said Australia’s current Copyright Act has not been designed to allow new technology, and in a rapidly changing digital environment, more flexibility is required to facilitate innovation.
“The way in which consumers access content is changing — we watch TV on our iPads; we’re watching it on our mobile phones. We’re no longer simply confined to our lounge room and there are services that have been recognised to be legitimate in other jurisdictions.”
Ultimately, Broad says it is consumers that draw the raw end of the stick when it comes to cases such as TV Now.
“The Optus TV Now case concerns particular corporate interests, but I think the real losers in these types of cases are consumers,” she said.
“It means that consumers lose out on their ability to watch TV the way they want to at a time that’s convenient for them.”
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