Copyright Infringement: Australian Government Reviews Exceptions for Reproducing Photos & Films

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The Australian Government is currently reviewing the operation of two copyright exceptions which permit photographs and cinematograph films to be copied in a different format for private use.

The Australian Government is currently reviewing the operation of two copyright exceptions which permit photographs and cinematograph films to be copied in a different format for private use, subject to certain conditions. The act of making these copies would otherwise constitute copyright infringement.

Broadly speaking, under these copyright exceptions you are permitted to reproduce a photograph in hardcopy form in electronic form or reproduce a photograph in electronic form in hardcopy form (section 47J of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)). For example, it is permissible to print a paper copy from a digital photograph.

Under the current copyright exceptions, the owner of a video tape containing a cinematograph film in analogue form is also permitted to copy the film in electronic form for domestic use (section 110AA of the Copyright Act). For example, it is permissible for the owner of a VHS video cassette to make a digital copy of a film on a DVD or computer hard drive.

While these copyright exceptions are not new (they became effective on 11 December, 2006) a review of their operation is now being conducted.

An Issues Paper was recently circulated and interested persons were invited to make submissions addressing:

  • whether the copyright exceptions are operating satisfactorily and achieving their objectives; and
  • whether the copyright exceptions should be modified in some way.

With submissions closing at the end of February the copyright review is expected to be completed by March 31, 2008.

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Elizabeth Godfrey
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