Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said she was hopeful the draft legislation would soon be released for public consideration as the next step to modernise the system.
“Australian university students and academics are disadvantaged by outdated and obsolete copyright regulations, and reform is now long overdue,” Ms Jackson said,
“Copyright underpins many aspects of teaching, learning and creating in Australian universities. However, present copyright legislation has fallen behind in the evolving digital landscape of the 21st century.”
“It is crucial that any reform to the Copyright Act supports the vital research and the world-class education that our universities are renowned for.”
“Eight recent inquiries have recommended that there should be more flexibility and modernisation built into the Copyright Act, and Universities Australia is very supportive of a system which puts us on a level playing field with the rest of the world.”
The reforms would allow universities to make works available in their collections even if the copyright owner is unable to be identified.
Such ‘orphan works’ would be available on the understanding that if the copyright owner were to come forward, they would be fairly compensated.
“Under the current laws, universities are left with little choice other than to keep these so-called orphaned works under lock and key to avoid infringing copyright,” Ms Jackson said.
Currently, academics are also required to seek permission for third party content they wish to include in a publication, even if it is a small mention.
“This cumbersome process slows down important work,” Ms Jackson said.
“The proposed reforms would allow academics to use short quotes in strictly non-commercial works.”
“If these reforms are implemented, a level of certainty would be provided to copyright owners, creators and users alike, as well as simplify and update the copyright exceptions for universities.”
The stalled reforms respond to the Productivity Commission’s 2016 Intellectual Property Arrangements Report.