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Important information regarding key changes to copyright

There have been significant amendments to the Copyright Act that have a positive impact on Australian universities. These include:

breakthrough legislation for assisting students with disabilities in line with international treaty agreements
new, more flexible rules for reproducing material for examinations
a new streamlined licence
a new copyright notice.

It is essential for all staff to be familiar with these changes, as they affect our day-to-day business.

Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill – key amendments

The Australian Copyright Act was amended in July last year. The amendments (which came into force on 22 December 2017) remove some of the complexities, and align the Australian Copyright Act with international treaties.

1. Access to content for individuals with a disability

The Act introduces a new definition of 'person with a disability' to accommodate a wider range of learning difficulties, including difficulty reading, hearing or comprehending. The Act also introduces two free exceptions that allow people and educational organisations to use copyright material to assist people with disabilities. Copyright material can be converted into the best format available and with appropriate features for persons with a disability and by anyone assisting them. This includes enlarging text and graphics and changing the format.

The new laws allow you to:

convert material into the format required, and with appropriate features, even if an accessible version is commercially available (subject to a fairness test)
build a library of accessible materials.

The new definition of a person with a disability is reproduced below:

A person with a disability is anyone who suffers from a disability that causes them difficulty in reading, viewing, hearing or comprehending copyright material in a particular form. In practice, this includes anyone with a disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).

a) Fair Dealing for the purpose of access by a person with a disability

This exception can be exercised by a person with a disability (or a person acting on their behalf) to:

copy or communicate copyright material
make changes to the format
add features, if it is for the purpose of providing an accessible version to a person with a disability provided the dealing is fair.

b) Use of copyright material by organisations assisting persons with a disability

This exception allows organisations to make accessible format copies and add features to them for the sole purpose of assisting a person with a disability, provided the material is not commercially available in the required format. This exception replaces the provisions in the old educational statutory licence.

For more information, please refer to Disability Provisions.

2. Reproducing material for examinations

This exception has been expanded to apply to all copyright material, including audio-visual content.

The changes allow the University to include a broader range of copyright material in examinations, including online assessments. Previously, the exception only applied to face-to-face exams.

3. Streamlined Educational Licence

The Part VA and Part VB statutory licences have been replaced with a new simplified licence. The changes simplify the rules for making copyright material available to students and remove the complex and inflexible administrative requirements for compliance. At this stage, the practical operation of the new licence provisions have yet to be worked out by the education sector and the relevant collecting societies. Current copying limits apply for now.

One immediate impact of the changes is that the copyright warning notice which the University was required to add to eReadings and PowerPoint presentations has been replaced with a new notice which must be used from now on. A copy of the new notice is available for download from Copyright Notice for Presentations.

Displaying the new copyright warning notice on material which the University uses in its teaching programs is one step that the University can take to protect itself from authorisation liability in the event that the content we copy is used in ways that infringe copyright. The new notice is consistent with the principle of Safe Harbours, giving educational and cultural institutions the same legal certainty and protection that currently applies to commercial internet service providers.

4. Equipment notices

The Copyright Regulations have also been amended to provide the University with a more flexible way to display copyright warning notices near photocopiers and in computer pools.

The notices which must be displayed on or near University equipment which is used to make print copies or to create electronic reproductions may now be combined into a single notice.

There are also less prescriptive rules around the size of the notice. Notices can now be any size over A4 (but not smaller) and can be placed anywhere in the vicinity of these machines. This means that in computer pools and in the library, there is the potential to have less but larger copies of each notice or to have a combined notice. Copies of the new notices are available for download from Equipment Notices.

Further questions

For further information about any of these amendments, please contact Ask the Library.

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