Feds review impact of copyright and cracker technology

Anyone noticing an unseasonal hive of copyright compliance and antipiracy activity may perhaps take solace in a statement that discreetly eeked it's way out of the Attorney General's Office on April Fools' Day.

Reforms to the Copyright act that came into force in 2001 to address the impact of new technology are up for their three-yearly roadworthy certificate. Added to that is the impact of a range of legal and illegal copyright cracking devices to come under the microscope as part of review announced by the Federal Attorney General.

Law firm Phillips Fox has been contracted to 'analyse' the worth of the so called "Digital Agenda" amendments over the next nine months. A statement from the Attorney General says that the "most controversial aspects" will come under scrutiny and key stakeholders are to be consulted in addition to a series of public forums with technical, economic and legal aspects of the amendments to be considered.

Terms of reference for the review reveal it will also research and analyse the economic impact of the act in relation to the markets of copyright holders, the use of technological protection measures and electronic rights management, and provisions that allow the decompilation of computer programs for specific purposes.

At the time of their launch, the reforms were touted as a key component of a legal framework to meet the challenges posed by emerging technologies to "place Australia at the forefront of international developments in online copyright law".

Antipiracy groups that have launched actions or position papers in the last three months include the Australian Pay Television and Radio Association, the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA) and Music Piracy Investigations (Australia Pty Ltd).

Research commissioned this year by the BSAA claims that a 10 per cent reduction in software piracy in Australia would create 7000 new jobs and inject more than $5 billion into the Australian economy, a figure that is widely viewed within the IT industry as somewhat over-optimistic.

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Julian Bajkowski

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