Our submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee in relation to the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017.

Digital Rights Watch strongly support the extension of the safe harbours in the Bill. The organisations that will benefit from the certainty that the copyright safe harbours provide have a clearly demonstrated need, and this proposal is long overdue.

However, we believe that the Bill should be amended so that the term ‘Service Provider’ is not defined restrictively. Currently, the Bill defines ‘Service Provider’ to be a carriage service provider; an organisation assisting persons with a disability; or a body administering a library, archives, cultural institution or educational institution. We believe that ‘Service Provider’ should be understood according to its ordinary meaning, and extend to all of Australia’s internet hosts and platform providers.

Extending the safe harbours to all service providers benefits all parties:

  • It increase certainty and reduces legal risk for emerging Australian content hosts and tech startups, decreasing the risk of flight to more hospitable jurisdictions (like the United States).
  • It provides a clear procedure for copyright owners to request content to be removed from the internet, particularly benefiting small Australian copyright businesses.
  • It provides due process safeguards for the legitimate interests of ordinary Australian users and digital media entrepreneurs who have been either inadvertently or maliciously subject to spurious takedown requests.

Without a safe harbour regime, service providers are left to their discretion to make judgments about whether content should be removed or not. This is a system with little transparency and almost no due process protections. A legal, regulated system is a much better option to protect the rights of publishers and authors online.

Read our full submission here.