Copyright Overhaul

The Productivity Commission has released a draft report on Australia’s intellectual property arrangements, including copyright.

The report calls for action to rebalance Australia’s IP system and the Productivity Commission has made it known in a fact sheet that it is keen to hear the public’s feedback on the draft report.  Further, the draft report finds that Australia’s IP arrangements are not as effective as they could be. Improvements are needed so Australia’s patent and copyright arrangements function more effectively. So, while the Commission acknowledges that copyright is important for rewarding creative endeavour, it does protect many types of works, including those that would have been created anyway. As one inquiry participant remarked, ‘a doodle or text message receives the same protection as an oil painting’. The Commission points out that Australia’s IP arrangements fail to strike an efficient balance between incentives for creators and innovators and costs to users. The duration of copyright protection is a striking example of excessive protection. A commercial life of a few years suggests most works are granted copyright protection for decades longer than required.

The draft report notes that Australia is a large net importer of IP protected goods and services, and the gap between IP imports and IP exports continues to expand. Further, the costs associated with Australia’s subpar IP arrangements are borne by Australian consumers, taxpayers and follow on innovators, largely to the benefit of overseas rights holders.

More information on making a submission can be found on the inquiry website at with submissions on the draft report due by 3 June 2016.  Readers of this newspaper are also welcome to share their general thoughts and comments with me at