A new consultation paper, Revising the scope of the copyright ‘safe harbour scheme’, proposes remedying a gap in the safe harbour provisions of the Copyright Act.

Currently a copyright owner has limited remedies against a carriage service provider for copyright infringements that take place through their systems and networks that they do not control, initiate or direct.

The definition of carriage service provider, however, requires that an entity must be operating primarily as a provider of network access to the public. This excludes:

  • organisations and businesses who operate servers to provide internet access to their clients, customers, students and other users, but not to the public at large; and
  • online search engines, bulletin board operators and online vendors.

To remedy this, the paper proposes an alternative term ("service provider") and amended definition, which it suggests could be:

"A person who provides services relating to, or provides connections for, the transmission or routing of data; or operates facilities for, online services or network access, but does not include such person or class of persons as the Minister may prescribe in the Regulations "

Submissions on these proposals are due by 22 November 2011.