Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry into the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement

We have concerns about the IP Chapter in KAFTA and they are compounded by the lack of analysis of the impact.

This submission is solely concerned with the intellectual property provisions of the Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), with particular focus on the copyright provisions.  While we express no opinion on the overall benefit of KAFTA to the Australian population, we have some serious reservations about the IP Chapter.  In particular we are concerned that KAFTA:

  • extends our international obligations;
  • is being used as a means to change domestic policy;
  • restrains our flexibility to adjust copyright policy in the future;
  • lacks balance, or even a recognition that the public interest may not always align with the rigid enforcement of IP rights;
  • is not based on any economic evidence or cost benefit analysis; and
  • ignores recommendations from previous committees and reviews.  

Despite repeated recommendations, no cost benefit analysis of the impact of the copyright provisions appears to have been done.  This is especially concerning when it appears that the treaty may be being used as a vehicle to change domestic law, specifically to reverse the decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet regarding authorisation.