Enforcement Amendments To the Copyright Act in 2003

Recent amendments to the Copyright Act have had a positive effect on anti-piracy activities. The amendments fall under the following broad categories:

  • Improvements to provisions relating to proof of subsistence and ownership of copyright;
  • Extension of the jurisdiction of the Federal Magistrates Court;
  • Increases in criminal penalties to $71,500 per offence for individuals and $357,500 per offence for corporations;
  • Additional damages criteria; and
  • The offence of advertising for the supply in Australia of infringing copies of computer programs has been extended and will now apply to all copyright material, including sound recordings.

By extending civil jurisdiction for copyright matters to the Federal Magistrates' Court, the amendments provide copyright owners with a quicker and more convenient forum in which to conduct smaller and more straightforward copyright infringement actions.

The creation of this jurisdiction has already enabled our members to conduct quite a number of copyright actions more cost effectively.

There has been an extension of the criteria under the Act that authorises the court in civil proceedings to award additional damages to those damages proven in any proceedings for copyright infringement. Specifically the court must now take into account:

  • The need to deter similar infringements of copyright; and
  • The conduct of the defendant after the act constituting the infringement.

The first of these is particularly useful as it allows copyright owners to file evidence in relation to the impact of piracy on the industry more generally and the need for the courts to award damages having regard to that impact.

As a package, these recent amendments to the Copyright Act are enormously beneficial to the ongoing fight against piracy. The most significant benefit relates to the proof of subsistence and ownership of copyright in both criminal and civil proceedings.

The recent amendments also allow these facts to be established on a prima facie basis using the relevant copyright labels, marks, certificates and or "P" lines. In the absence of any evidence (or any persuasive evidence to the contrary), the labels, marks, certificates and or "P" lines will be sufficient evidence to prove the relevant facts.

These measures streamline evidentiary requirements resulting in substantial savings in terms of both time and money. They will, in effect, allow the industry to apply anti-piracy funds far more cost effectively.

For details of how to appropriately use the "P" line and safeguard copyright in your recordings, please download the attached document (PDF),

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