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Safe Harbours - The Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Act 2018


What is a Safe Harbour and Why is it Important

A Safe Harbour is a protection given to a service provider that shields them from liability because of the infringing actions of their users, provided the service provider complies with the obligations in the Safe Harbour scheme.

Before the introduction of The Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Act 2018, this protection only existed for commercial ISPs like Telstra and Optus, meaning that schools and TAFEs who provided IT systems to millions of students and hundreds of thousands of staff members could be held liable for any copyright infringement that occurred on their systems.

The Safe Harbour scheme ensures that schools and TAFE institutes are not exposed to unnecessary legal risk from providing Australian students with the tools to ensure they are fully equipped for the demands of an innovative digital workforce.

The Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Act 2018

The Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Act 2018 extends the protection of Safe Harbours to schools and TAFEs and corrects this long-standing anomaly with respect to copyright infringements by users. 

The Act received Royal Assent on 29 June 2018 and will come into force six months from that date (29 December 2018).

The Act will ensure that schools and TAFEs are protected against being sued for copyright infringement if students or staff misuse IT services provided to them. Under the Safe Harbour regime rights holders will be able to issue ‘take down notices’ if staff or students infringe copyright online. Schools will then be required to take reasonable steps to remove the infringing material. The regime protects schools and TAFEs while also protecting the interests of creators by providing them with an efficient pathway to raise instances of copyright infringement so that infringing content can be removed efficiently.

Safe Harbour reform has been on the Government’s reform agenda since 2011 and the passage of this Act is a great step forward for Australian schools and TAFEs

Additional information

For additional information, see the Copyright Advisory Group’s Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications in relation to The Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017 available here.

The text of the Act can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018A00071 

NCU will be providing further guidance on compliance with this Act once it comes into force in December 2018.