Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Craig Emerson's Proposed Compromise

Competition Minister Craig Emerson's proposed 'compromise' on the issue of the reform of Australia's parallel importation laws, as outlined here, is deeply flawed in that it clearly breaches the Berne Convention and a mirror provision in the Australian Copyright Act which is based on it. It will therefore go nowhere. The Attorney-General's department will quickly point this out, as they have on numerous other occasions.

Here are the relevant clauses:

Berne: Article 3 (4) A work shall be considered as having been published simultaneously in several countries if it has been published in two or more countries within thirty days of its first publication.

Copyright Act: Section 29 (5) For the purposes of this Act, a publication in Australia or in any other country shall not be treated as being other than the first publication by reason only of an earlier publication elsewhere, if the two publications took place within a period of not more than thirty days.

Thus no Australian government has the authority, while ever Australia remains a signatory country, to alter the 30 days definition of simultaneous publication. And the reason for the 30 days is to allow foreign titles sufficient time to get published here in order to extend the exact same basic copyright protections to those titles that local Australian-originated titles receive. This is a foundational fairness principle in Berne, and will never change. Local titles, in any signatory country, cannot be privileged.

Try again Minister.

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