On 7 March 2023, Arts Law made a submission to the Attorney General’s Department about improving copyright enforcement options for creators. We raised the following points:
- Rising infringement is driven by online platforms: evidence suggests that copyright infringement is rising, and is caused by the way that online platforms (like Instagram or Redbubble) structure their services. Users can reach massive audiences with little effort. But they are provided with almost no education about copyright or help with getting permission. The widespread (mis)use and sharing of content online has also driven more ‘offline’ infringement—because of how easy it is to download, modify and re-share that content without consequence.
- Current enforcement options place an unreasonable burden on creators: copyright infringements replicate themselves infinitely online, and the burden of monitoring these infringements is placed solely on creators, who don’t have the time or the money to be constantly scouring the internet for new infringements. Industry-led takedown mechanisms (like the complaint forms on Facebook or Amazon) vary from platform to platform, and are not always easy to use. But creators have no alternatives. Other options like going to court are too expensive and complicated.
- Minimum standards are required for online platforms: platforms make huge profits from the user attention generated by creators. Those platforms also have the resources and technological know-how needed to create better enforcement options. Arts Law supports minimum standards being imposed on online platforms (through an industry code or guiding principles) requiring proactive steps to be taken to, for example, educate users about copyright, monitor for infringements, provide simple takedown forms, impose harsher penalties for infringement, and give rights holders channels to communicate directly with infringers.
- A small claims forum for copyright infringement (and related legal areas) is needed: the current legal system is failing creators, who are totally unable to access the courts. Even if they had the financial resources to commence proceedings (which they often don’t), the cost of doing so usually dwarfs the value of the claims they are concerned about. Arts Law supports the government establishing a small claims forum for copyright infringement (and related areas), similar to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in the United Kingdom and the Copyright Claims Board in the United States of America. It should be designed for small claims and self-represented litigants—with low fees; flexible, informal procedures; caps on costs awards; and active case management by judges. There should be no option for infringers to opt-out of the process, because that would undercut its purpose.
You can read Arts Law’s full submission here.
Thank you to everyone who participated in Arts Law’s copyright survey. We appreciate the time and care you took in answering our questions. Your feedback was hugely helpful in informing our submission.