Canberra
01 June 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Wikipedia calls for Australian fair use


Wikipedia has joined the fight for fair use in Australia, lambasting Australia’s current Fair Dealing law as restrictive.

Adding its voice to a chorus of groups, including Google and Facebook, which argue that a fair use exception would “future proof the Copyright Act”, Wikipedia now displays a banner ad for its Australian users that says the encyclopaedia relies on fair use.

“Under US Fair Use law, Wikipedia accepts images, logos, and sound clips on over half a million articles, increasing access to knowledge for readers all over the world,” the ad says.

In a separate blog post, Wikipedia said that Australia’s current laws stifle education, meaning Australian schools must pay a royalty fee to use freely accessible websites, such as Google Maps, in its classrooms.

The Australian Productivity Commission recommended a “system of user rights” in 2016, including an exception for fair use.

It said this would redress the imbalance of copyright, and help stop innovative firms, universities, schools and consumers bearing the cost.

But rights holder groups in Australia, including the Australian Society of Authors and the Australian Recording Industry Association, rejected claims that the country’s copyright laws are too broad and inflexible.

In a joint statement released in February, the groups said: “We support sensible reforms to the Copyright Act that benefit both Australian audiences and Australian creators.”

“However, the Productivity Commission’s recommendations, including the introduction of a US-style ‘fair use’ exception and expansion of the safe harbour provision to big tech companies will make it easier for these large organisations to use Australian content without fair payment and will mean less production of Australian stories.”

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