Apple and Facebook at risk of litigation due to copyright laws

A report has found Australia's copyright laws are hindering technological innovation in the country.

Australia’s copyright laws is stifling innovation and will cost our economy $600 million, according to a report for the Australian Digital Alliance.

The report, prepared by Lateral Economics, reveals the copyright exceptions sector in Australia is worth $182 billion per year and accounts for 14 per cent of our GDP. However, the report revealed it could be worth much more.

“We have identified how Australia's out-dated copyright laws create a legal environment that is less conducive to innovation and investment than comparable countries for services such as Web hosts, search engines and social media,” Dr Nicholas Gruen, co-author of the report, said in a statement.

“What the reports clearly show is that more flexible, technology-neutral copyright laws would make a substantial contribution to Australia's economic growth and innovation with negligible downsides for content owners.”

The report revealed Australia’s copyright laws are also increasing court litigation, such as the recent Optus TV Now case, with the Australian Digital Alliance revealing it was planning to take copyright issues surrounding the case to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).

The ALRC inquiry into is looking at copyright exceptions and whether they have kept pace with changing technology, with the ALRC currently seeking comment on an issues paper.

“These reports by Lateral Economics make it clear that in Australia, companies like Apple, Facebook and YouTube are exposed to a greater risk of liability for copyright violations. This means that Australia is not a natural home for innovation and it reduces our ability to compete globally,” Derek Whitehead, chair of the Australian Digital Alliance, said in a statement.

Australia is also involved in negotiations for the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which both cover copyright provisions.

Content rights holders, ISPs and consumer groups are also in talks being facilitated by the Attorney-General’s department over who should police copyright infringement.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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