Digital copyright legislation introduced to the Australian Parliament could bankrupt many education institutions and cripple Australia's information openness, according to the Australian Vice-chancellors' Committee. The committee says universities will face additional costs of tens of millions of dollars a year.
Under the bill, every time a student reads or browses copyright material electronically, the education institution will be liable to a claim for payment. The Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999 was introduced into the House of Representatives in September. It is intended to clarify how educational institutions can make use of copyright material in electronic formats.
But the vice-chancellors say the act would place an uncertain and possibly intolerable financial burden on universities with the likely result they will be forced to limit student access to material. The AVCC has joined other organisations representing schools, libraries, the software industry and museums to oppose the bill.
"Every page a student copies from an electronic format, which will increasingly be the only format, will have to be paid for," the AVCC says in a submission to a parliamentary standing committee reviewing the legislation.