Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past 6 weeks or so:
The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that Access Copyright is entitled to collect royalties from York University for its staff’s and students’ copying of articles and other materials used in “coursepacks” and learning management systems. The University had argued that its copying was fair dealing under the Copyright Act (RSC 1985, c C-42). Commentator Michael Geist offers a scathing review (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2017/07/ignoring-supreme-court-trial-judge-hands-access-copyright-fair-dealing-victory/) of the decision, saying it ignores the Supreme Court of Canada’s copyright decisions; while commentary from other firms including Bereskin & Parr are more neutral (http://www.bereskinparr.com/Doc/id956). This decision seems ripe for an appeal.
On 26 May 2017, the Full Federal Court found that a trade mark application must be made in the true owner’s name, and a later assignment from an applicant to the true owner cannot correct any defect in ownership. See Pham Global Pty Ltd v Insight Clinical Imaging Pty Ltd (http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/full/2017/2017fcafc0083). This overturns the previous Australian law position about ownership of a trade mark application. However, the Insight decision means that the ownership requirement for trade mark applications is different to that of registered designs and patents.
The Age’s Tony Wright comments on a new book from David Dufty, “The Secret Code-Breakers of Central Bureau: How Australia’s signals intelligence network helped win the Pacific War”, about Australia’s WWII signals intelligence and code-breaking operations at the Monterey building in Melbourne – a local version of the UK’s Bletchley Park.
The Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017 to implement Australia’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty (WIPO) received royal assent on 22 June 2017. Among other changes, this will create a new “fair dealing” exception to allow other people to help people living with disabilities by creating and sharing accessible versions of books and other materials in braille, large print or DAISY audio formats. When I last checked in mid-June, 28 countries had ratified the Marrakesh Treaty.
Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past week or so:
Update on the “Amazon.com Tax” and “Netflix Tax” changes to Australian GST
Further to my previous article, on 16 February 2017 the Commonwealth Government introduced a bill to Parliament that seeks to change the law to extend the Australian GST to so-called “low value” imports (under $1,000) of physical goods, from 1 July 20172018*.
The first Senate hearings into the Bill were held on 21 April. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Senate has heard from vendors and platforms such as eBay, Alibaba and Amazon, and even the transportation & logistics companies, that none
of whom want the administrative burden (cost and complexity) of having to determine whether and how much GST they need to collect on behalf of overseas retailers.
The “vendor registration model” for low-value goods is in line with the one for the Government’s proposed ‘Netflix Tax’. That would require offshore vendors to register and account for GST on the supply of things other than goods and real property to Australian consumers, also from 1 July 2017.
* On 26 June 2017, Parliament passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Act 2017 (Cth) to remove the “low value goods exemption” (under Australia’s GST legislation) on goods imported into Australia, with effect from 1 July 2018. This note was updated 16 August 2017 to reflect this change.
Broadband and Internet
Net neutrality has taken a big step forward in Canada, with the CRTC ruling against Videotron’s zero-rated music streaming service, and releasing a 4-point code for evaluating whether a service is net-neutral. Michael Geist and Ars Technica each have articles discussing the implications of the CRTC decision.
On 13 April 2017, the grace period closed for Australian Internet service providers and telecoms carriers to comply with the mandatory data retention scheme. They are required to retain prescribed non-content metadata for 2 years – or for “subscriber information”, for 2 years after the subscriber’s account is closed.
On a related note, the A-G’s Dept has backed down on its late-2016 proposal to allow civil litigants to access metadata collected by the data retention scheme. The report to Parliament concluded there is not enough support for expanding these regulations. It’s worth noting that litigants are (with a court order) still able to access other metadata which ISPs retain, other than solely to comply with the scheme.