3rd May 2016

The scare campaign by publishers and authors against the Productivity Commission’s latest report which recommends dropping parallel import restrictions is a ‘shame’, says QUT Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Matthew Rimmer.

Professor Rimmer said publishers and authors had lost the policy debate, with the High Court of Australia, the Australian Parliament, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, all highlighting how the current regime results in Australians paying an unfair premium on books.

“Australia’s parallel imports restrictions are out-of-date and anti-competitive, so this report will help modernise our intellectual property laws for the 21st century,” Professor Rimmer said.

“Current restrictions have largely benefitted multinational publishing networks and foreign authors so it is a shame publishers and authors are running this scare campaign.

“The Productivity Commission has also supported the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into IT pricing, and recommended that Australians should be able to circumvent geoblocking, which results in Australians paying more for online music and video downloads than their overseas counterparts."

Professor Rimmer said the Commission’s recommendation that Australia adopt a broad defence of fair use could help support innovative start-ups.

“The defence of fair use in the United States has enabled formation of innovation in hot-spots like Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York.

“US courts recently recognised that Google Books was protected under the doctrine of fair use.

“Australia is at a competitive disadvantage because it only has a much more limited, purpose-specific defence of fair dealing which tends to stifle innovation.

“Start-ups may well be reluctant to base themselves in Australia because of fears of copyright litigation by incumbent industries.

“The Productivity Commission has made a number of sensible recommendations, which will help modernise Australia’s intellectual property laws for the 21st century.

“The recommended reforms would enhance consumer rights, competition policy, and Australia’s innovation agenda and ideas boom.”

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT Media, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

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