Landmark decision – Australian copyright law confirmed to combat softw…

Landmark decision – Australian copyright law confirmed to combat software piracy
Melbourne, Friday 31 July, 2003: Blake Dawson Waldron represented Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) in its successful appeal to the Full Federal Court in the SCE v Stevens case. The Full Court delivered judgment on 30 July 2003, unanimously allowing SCE’s appeal on the principal issue of the construction of the definition of “technological protection measure” in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

At first instance Sackville J ruled that, to satisfy the definition in the Act, a “technological protection measure” must operate to physically prevent copyright infringement. The Full Court (French, Lindgren and Finkelstein JJ) disagreed with this approach. They held that a device which has the practical effect of deterring copyright infringement is enough to satisfy the definition of “technological protection measure” (for example, by discouraging the making of pirated copies of computer software because the infringer knows those copies will not work, as they lack some element of the protective device).

Blake Dawson Waldron Special Counsel Peter Chalk said: “This landmark judgment by the Full Court restores the true operation of the Copyright Act . Through this decision the Full Court has confirmed the effectiveness of section 116A of the Copyright Act as a means of combating software piracy.”

David Catterns QC and Richard Cobden appeared as Counsel for SCE in the appeal. Belinda Findlay and Peter Chalk were the principal members of the Blake Dawson Waldron team acting for SCE.

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