Australia ranks poorly on global copyright list

International report names best and worst IP regimes.

Global consumer advocacy body Consumers International (CI) is today releasing its inaugural Intellectual Property (IP) Watch list, a global snapshot of how national IP and copyright laws serve or subvert consumer interests.

The report shows that Australian consumers suffer some of the greatest restrictions in relation to use of copyrighted material including music, DVD and published works. Australia comes in behind the United States and developing countries such as India, China and Indonesia.

CHOICE says a particular area of concern is consumer rights to transfer and share copyrighted information for non-commercial purposes.

For example, current Australian laws do not allow many common forms of electronic to electronic format shifting or space shifting, such as ripping a DVD to play on an iPod. At present, a person who does so could be fined or found guilty of a criminal offence.

“This report highlights the need for reform to the Australian copyright regime to protect legitimate consumer rights,” said CHOICE Director of Campaigns & Policy Gordon Renouf.


“A consumer who has purchased a film online should not be restricted from watching this film on their Mp3 player – this is manifestly unfair”.

CHOICE believes that legislative reform is needed to protect consumers’ rights to the fair use of copyrighted materials. The following changes are a few of the most basic needed to bring some balance back into copyright law and move Australia up the list closer to the USA. Such changes to Australian copyright laws were supposed to occur with the harmonisation of laws between the US and Australia in the Free Trade Agreement. Necessary reforms include:

  • Extension of consumer rights to fair dealing beyond the current limited circumstances
  • Ensuring copy protection and other technical restrictions do not stop consumers enjoying their existing legal rights to the use of copyrighted materials
  • Prohibition on contracting out of limitations and exceptions.

Note for editors:

Consumers International is the world’s only global consumer advocacy body of which CHOICE is a member.

To access the Consumer International Intellectual Property (IP) Watch list, visit:

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