Australia Should Extend Safe Harbor to All Online Service Providers, Commission Says

Add Your Comments

Australia should scrap its “innovation patent” system and extend its safe harbor IP scheme to cover all online service providers, according to a report from the country’s Productivity Commission (PDF). The recommendations are intended to reduce impediments to further innovation caused by its current IP laws.

Implementing the various changes would save the education system licensing fees for materials, and benefit Australian SMEs, ecommerce vendors, and online service providers, the commission says.

“Online service providers, such as cloud computing firms, would face fewer impediments to establish operations in Australia,” according to the report. “The copyright system will be more adaptable as new services and technologies are developed, facilitating greater innovation. Aligning with international systems further reduces business uncertainty.”

Innovation patents are a “second-tier” system for protecting intellectual property, with restrictions on the number a company can hold and their duration. They make up less than 5 percent of all patents in force, according to the commission.

The Productivity Commission is an independent research and advisory organization, and as such its recommendations are not binding to the government. It advised the government to implement previously recommended changes to protect the circumvention of geoblocking to combat high IT prices.

It also urged adoption of a fair use provision in Australia’s Copyright Act, as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). Non-commercial private use and technical use clauses of the fair use provision would be particularly beneficial to technology sector uses like data caching and cloud computing, according to the ALRC’s 2013 Copyright and the Digital Economy (PDF) report.

Currently, the country’s safe harbor scheme applies to carriage service providers, but not the businesses providing the services they carry.

The Productivity Commission also said that copyright protection lasts too long, though it recommends negotiating to prevent further IP restrictions in international agreements, rather than attempting to break with “international systems.”

Add Your Comments

  • (will not be published)