The Department of Defence has backed changes to Australian copyright laws to prevent government agencies from being stifled in their adoption of cloud computing.
Although it did not currently use cloud services "to any significant extent" for security reasons, the department noted the Federal Government's intention to use cloud services in future.
"For this reason it would be prudent to address some of the current inadequacies of the [Copyright] Act," Defence said in a submission to an Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry. (rtf)
"Defence takes the view that the current wording of the Act is insufficient to allow full usage of cloud computing advancements."
The department used its submission to seek an extension of the limited reproduction rights for copyrighted material that are afforded to individuals, to also cover "corporate and other 'intangible' legal entities".
"By doing this, these intangible entities would be granted limited reproduction rights with the concept of 'personal use' being extended to the organisation's personal use, Defence proposed.
"Under this concept, individuals working within the organisation would be able to make copies of copyrighted material in accordance with the exceptions created under the Act, but the personal use authorised under the reproduction would extended to some degree to the organisation as a whole.
"Of course, there would need to be some limitations on the extent to which copies could be made – either a fixed number, or a 'reasonableness' test to ensure the privilege isn't abused."
Defence said an example it hoped would be covered was "covering a hardcopy of a submitted plan or document to an electronic format", as long as the intended usage of the document did not change.
It did not intend to relax copyrights, for example, around the use of licensed computer software.
However, it hoped to apply the concept in a cloud computing context.
"If this concept were implemented, it could also be used as a basis for facilitating cloud computing by treating the cloud service providers as agents of the organisation, wit[h] the limits of their agency being defined by the services they are providing (e.g. an authorisation to 'copy' the material for the purposes of storing it in the cloud, transferring the relevant server, etc)," Defence noted.
Defence is the latest organisation to publicly support a shake-up of copyright laws that might impact cloud computing adoption.
Late last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and eBay also backed the push for change.
The ALRC had sought views on whether current copyright laws impede "the development or delivery of cloud services", and whether or not those laws should be neutralised or exceptions created to allow the lawful operation of cloud services.