MIL-OSI Australia: Copyright reform to protect remote learning

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Source: Australian Executive Government Ministers

The Albanese Government will ensure students who use technology to attend classes remotely can benefit from the use of copyright material in online teaching in the same way as their fellow students who attend in person.

Our fundamental belief is clear – every child should have access to the best education possible, regardless of their circumstances.

As a result of concerns raised at the Ministerial Copyright Roundtables, the Government will be moving amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) to make clear that existing rules for copyright materials in the classroom also apply when lessons are delivered online.

The Government will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure creators continue to receive fair remuneration for their work and any changes do not unfairly impact upon the rights of copyright owners.

COVID-19 ignited a national re-think of how and where people are educated.

Many schools have since moved to a more flexible, hybrid education delivery model that integrates online learning into the curriculum and are reliant on technologies that enable teachers to deliver classes over the internet.

For students who live in remote areas or regional areas, online learning is often the only option for them to complete their education.

However, the Roundtables heard concerns about whether the Copyright Act permits the use of materials online in the same way as in the physical classroom.

The use of copyright material in lessons is a crucial part of modern education practice. The Government will ensure that the Copyright Act treats all students equally, regardless of whether they are being taught online, or in the classroom.

The proposed amendments will also make clear that parents and guardians can assist students in which copyright materials are used – which is particularly important for younger students who need assistance from a parent or guardian to take part in online learning.

The changes will make clear that individuals or organisations, such as local police, can make a presentation to a classroom without this affecting how copyright material can be used in teaching, enriching the diversity of the educational experience.

These changes reflect agreement on legislative change between representatives from the schools and creative industries sectors.

The Government will also be conducting further consultation on the design of a proposed Australian ‘orphan works’ scheme.

‘Orphan works’ are copyright materials for which an owner cannot be found, yet represent significant cultural value for users and Australian society.

Progress on these issues will occur simultaneous to the Government’s ongoing work on Copyright and AI through the Copyright and AI Reference Group, which was also established as an outcome of the Ministerial Copyright Roundtables.

I thank all of those who have taken part in these Roundtables and for their essential contributions to these important reforms.