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Trade agreement continues pirate hunt

Aussie bill clarifies liability to Internet providers

SYDNEY — The U.S.-Australia free-trade agreement looks set to come into effect Jan. 1 after the Oz government agreed Monday to address U.S. concerns that the pact did not introduce sufficient safeguards to protect copyright.

Prime Minister John Howard’s Cabinet decided to introduce amendments to the Copyright Act that will tighten criminal offense provisions, proof of copyright ownership and the exemption of people who make temporary copies.

The bill, which will be presented to the current session of Parliament that starts today, will clarify the liability of Internet service providers when alleged breaches of intellectual property occur online.

Disputes over copyright and the U.S. access to the pharmaceutical industry had delayed an exchange letter with the U.S. certifying the government has implemented the principles of the pact.

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