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Australian universities need to compete

Universities Australia has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission Report on Copyright and the digital economy

Universities Australia welcomes the release by the Attorney General, Senator the Hon George Brandis, of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report: Copyright and the Digital Economy.

The recommendation of the ALRC to introduce a fair use exception into our copyright laws, if enacted, will ensure that Australia has a regime delivering the flexibility that is so urgently needed to encourage research and innovation, while still protecting the rights of copyright owners.

The present inflexible copyright exceptions, together with the educational statutory licences, limit the ability of Australian universities to create and disseminate knowledge, and place the higher education sector at an international competitive disadvantage.

Chief Executive of Universities Australia Belinda Robinson called for the proposed reforms to be legislated to ensure a level playing field for Australian universities.

“Fair use would remove obstacles that currently stand in the way of Australian universities fully utilising digital technology, and would bring our copyright law in line with comparable jurisdictions.

“Australian universities need to be able to compete as they seek to attract the best and brightest students and researchers in an increasingly globalised and competitive higher education market”, Ms Robinson said.

Fair use would remove roadblocks to Australian universities competing with North American universities and would assist our academics to use copyright content in ways comparable to that of their peers in the USA and other fair use jurisdictions. This includes using innovative technologies such as data mining and text mining that in many cases would currently infringe copyright in Australia.

Australian universities spend almost $260 million on library resources each year so students and researchers can access published work. Because of Australia’s out-dated existing educational copying regime, Australian universities are additionally paying for uses that do not attract payment in other jurisdictions.

Universities Australia believes Australia should have a contemporary copyright regime comparable to that of our global competitors to avoid unfair disadvantage in the international education market and we urge the government to adopt the ALRC’s recommendations and legislate them as a priority.