Digital Agenda Bill Passed By House Of Representatives!

The Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) warmly applauded both the Government and the Australian Labor Party for the passage of the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999 yesterday.

The Digital Agenda Bill is Australia’s most comprehensive piece of copyright legislation since the current Act was passed in 1968. It’s designed to give Australia a copyright system designed for the technologies of the 21st century.

The Bill is the result of an exhaustive (and as the Attorney-General, Mr Williams observed, exhausting) consultation process. The Shadow Attorney-General, Mr McClelland, correctly pointed out that: ‘When you have the procedures right, you are more likely to get the policy right.’

“The correct procedure followed by the Government has indeed resulted in a good compromise that is fair to all.” Said Mr Tom Cochrane, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queensland University of Technology and ADA Board member.

“When amended, Australia’s copyright regime will allow copyright creators and investors to be able to pursue new commercial exploitations of their copyright material in the online world while libraries, schools, universities and their users will continue to have reasonable access to the world’s information resources. This can only be a good thing for Australian innovation, research and education.” Said Mr Steve Heptonstall, chair of the Australian Digital Alliance.

The Bill is not without its downside for users, however. While the ADA applauds the positive and bi-partisan approach taken by the Australian Labor Party, the ADA is disappointed that the ALP submitted to last minute pressure by some interest groups. The ALP amendments may make it easier for copyright owners to lock up their copyright works unreasonably and will result in less access by the public to Australia’s artistic heritage.

The ADA is a coalition of public and private sector interests formed to promote balanced copyright law and provide an effective voice for a public interest perspective in the copyright debate. ADA members include schools, universities, consumer groups, major cultural institutions, IT companies, scientific and other research organisations, libraries and individuals.