“This hostile regulatory regime is one of the reasons why so many Australian start-ups head straight for Silicon Valley.”
Copyright law experts say in some areas the law is too strict and stifles innovation while preventing the public from enjoying creative works. Recent court battles have sparked debate on some of these issues including Larrikin Records’ victory over Men at Work and the Optus stoush with the AFL and NRL.
Google’s search engine uses automated web crawlers to find and copy sites on the internet. The copies are indexed and stored in its cache so users can more quickly access search results.
However, the ALRC’s paper said that because there are no exceptions in the Copyright Act allowing caching, indexing and other internet-related technical functions, Google’s search engine “may infringe copyright”. Further when it displays results to users this could be considered “communicating copyright material to the public”, another breach of the Act.
“If Google had been started in Australia, it could well have been sued out of existence,” said Dr Rebecca Giblin, copyright law expert at Monash University.