So here’s a thought about fair use: Google says if it had been invented in Australia, it would have been shut down because our copyright laws are so antiquated.
Speaking at an Australian Digital Alliance event discussing fair use in Canberra today, Google Australia’s public policy manager Damian Kassabgi said that the lack of a fair use clause in Australian copyright law would have been a big problem if Google had been created in Australia.
“Because of fair use, Google is allowed to exist in the US,” he said. “If Google as a search engine was to have been invented in Australia, it is possible in the early years it would have been shut down because Australia didn’t have a fair use clause.”
Google itself certainly isn’t guiltless when it comes to copyright issues: content creators complain about their work being endlessly replicated on YouTube, and its ongoing scheme to scan books has run into legal challenges. Nonetheless, in an era where it’s become clear manufacturing isn’t going to cut it as an industry in Australia and we need to become more engaged as a knowledge economy, it seems a pity that the introduction of the Fair Use clauses recommended by the ALRC is very unlikely to be implemented.