No safe harbour: Online platforms face choppy waters on copyright infringement

  • The ‘safe harbour’ provisions of the Copyright Act only apply to carriage service providers, and not internet service providers, so cannot be relied upon by online content platforms to avoid liability.
  • Two recent cases involving Redbubble highlight the extent to which online platforms are likely to be held liable for the actions of their users.
  • Should the Pokemon decision be upheld on appeal, it may have serious consequences for the way that online marketplaces and content distribution platforms conduct their businesses.

Detective Pikachu

The liability of internet intermediaries for copyright infringement is a hot topic of conversation at the moment, both in Australia and overseas. Sweeping reforms have just been passed by the EU Parliament, and Australian copyright legislation in this area has been the subject of significant judicial consideration in recent years.

In this article, we consider the outcome of two recent copyright infringement cases brought against the Australian online marketplace Redbubble, which may help (somewhat) clarify the extent to which such platforms are likely to be held liable for the actions of their users, what this liability means in practice, and how they can operate to minimise these risks.

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