Over the course of two weeks we were joined by creators, practitioners and copyright experts from the UK, Singapore and Australia. We covered topics from how copyright exceptions should be drafted, to digital lending rights and how copyright could be holding back the development of AI in Australia.
One of the key themes that emerged across each of the sessions was the need for copyright laws to be adaptable in the digital environment. Never has this been more clear than in the past fourteen months, where we have experienced the shut down of schools, universities, libraries, museums and creative arts venues.
Throughout the pandemic, Australia’s outdated copyright laws have added complexity to the delivery of these key services and in some cases have caused events and activities to shut down entirely. Online access to knowledge and information has never been more important as it has been during the pandemic, and yet in many circumstances this access has been denied.
What many of the panel sessions highlighted was the urgent need for reform designed to address the shortcomings of our current copyright framework. The Government’s proposed Copyright Access Reforms go a long way to addressing many of these known challenges. As we discussed over the course of the Forum, these issues are not just ‘COVID’ issues – they are problems that have long existed in our copyright laws, and are issues which the ADA has been highlighting for many years.
While we are no longer facing the mass-shutdown of venues across the country like we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic, we cannot assume that the gaps in our copyright laws exposed by the pandemic no longer need to be addressed. These are issues that, whilst exacerbated by lockdowns and social distancing measures, will continue to hold Australians back from accessing knowledge, culture and information in the digital environment. As a result, the ADA will continue to engage in consultation with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure that the Access Reforms support the needs of all Australians as well as our public institutions going forward.
Thanks again to everyone who attended the Forum this year and for engaging in discussions with our panelists. And a big thank you to all of our speakers for joining live panel sessions as well as creating pre-recorded presentations. This year’s Forum was an experiment in online delivery, and we are hugely grateful to be joined by experts from around the world juggling timezones and busy schedules.
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