Amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (the EP&A Act) in 2012 were designed to facilitate online access to plans and other information that form part of development consents.
Those changes extended the application of the express statutory licence to use that copyright material for the purposes of the Act.
This editorial examines the decision of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of New South Wales (the Tribunal) in Sandy v Kiama Municipal Council  NSWCATAD 49 (Sandy v KMC).
In Sandy v KMC the Tribunal was required to determine whether the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Copyright Act) still prevented the Council from reproducing surveys and plans in responding to an application under Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act).
The applicant applied for access to information held by the respondent Council relating to a development application for an abattoir adjacent to the applicant’s property.
The respondent’s decision included to provide “view only” access to copyright protected (including surveys, stormwater drainage plans, and building plans) documents.
The applicant sought administrative review by the Tribunal. The purpose of the applicant’s request to access the plans was for the purpose of obtaining legal advice as to the prospects of commencing class 4 proceedings in respect of the proposed abattoir. The applicant argued this was not practicable without copies of the plans.
After concluding that the information was an original literary and artistic work and subject to copyright protection, the Tribunal noted that any action by the Council in reproducing or copying the work (including providing copying facilities or authorising the applicant to make copies) would infringe the copyright, unless an exception applied.
The applicant argued that it was necessary for a licence to be implied because in order for an application to be processed, third parties would need to reproduce the works. The applicant relied on section 10.14 of the EP&A Act which enables a licence to be given for the purposes of that Act. The Tribunal found this did not enable a licence for the GIPA Act. The applicant also sought to rely on section 83 of the Local Government Act 1993 which provides that on submission for approval one copy becomes property of the Council. The Tribunal found that section 83 did not purport to assign copyright and so did not assist.
As to the exceptions relied on by the applicant:
Accordingly the decision under review was affirmed.
Accessing copyright material that forms parts of development applications, other than on the basis of having to attend the Council and view the material, remains a source of frustration for both applicants and council who want to make that information available online.
Even with the extension of the express statutory licence to cover more planning material in 2012, given that the bulk of access to planning material is accessed by relying on the GIPA Act, and it is clear that the indemnity only applies to the use of documents for the EP&A Act, in a practical sense those changes have not overcome the problem.
The permanent solution to this problem relies on either changes to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) to create a fair use exception relating to public administration, or for the State government to enter into an agreement on behalf of Councils with the Copyright Agency Limited.
Architects and others have consistently said that the cost of any royalty would be low, somewhere in the order of 20 cents per application.
It's a relatively small price to pay to facilitate online access to this important planning information.
Editorial: Peter Holt & Jeffrey Shi
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Hillyer v Rural Fire Service  NSWCATAD 52
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Government Information (Public Access) Act -– GIPA – consultation – whether consultation required-sufficiency of evidence to establish factors against disclosure - weight to apply significantly to factors against disclosure.
Sandy v Kiama Municipal Council  NSWCATAD 49
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – government information – form of access – whether reproducing information would infringe copyright.
Kate Singleton Pty Ltd and SJ Connelly CPP Pty Ltd t/as Planners North v Department of Planning and Environment  NSWCATAD 50
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – administrative review - government information – personal information – no issue of principle.
Miskelly v Secretary, Department of Education  NSWCATAD 48
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW- freedom of information- government information public access-public interest considerations- Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).
Bailey v Ku-ring-gai Council  NSWLEC 35
JUDICIAL REVIEW – planning proposal to make local environmental plan – amendment to plan to remove properties as listed heritage items – variation of planning proposal to retain and not remove a listed heritage item – whether denial of procedural fairness – whether failure to consider relevant matter – whether manifest unreasonableness.
Webb v Port Stephens Council  NSWCATAD 47
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW- freedom of information- government information public access-public interest considerations-open access information s6 Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).
Kendrick v Secretary of the Department of Education NSW  NSWCATAD 45
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW- Education and Care Services National Law – review of a decision to refuse to cancel a prohibition notice under section 182 National Law – Objects and Principles of National Law – Children – Childcare Services – Administrative review jurisdiction – correct and preferable decision - whether the Tribunal should uphold the decision or substitute a decision – correct and preferable decision is to confirm the decision of the Regulatory Authority.
Quach v New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal  NSWCA 49
JUDGMENTS AND ORDERS – Court of Appeal – Judges of Appeal – Appointment, tenure and remuneration – Whether Court of Appeal invalidly constituted so as to invalidate orders – Whether s 72 Commonwealth Constitution governs the maximum permissible age of judges of State Supreme Courts.
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NSW Government Bulletin editor:
Christine Jones, Partner - Construction & Infrastructure (Dispute Resolution)
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Dispute Resolution, Inquiries and Administrative Law
Greg Wrobel, Partner
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Bede Haines, Partner
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Workplace Relations & Safety
Michael Selinger, Partner
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Privacy & Data Protection
Lyn Nicholson, General Counsel
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Planning, Property & Environment
Robina Kidd, Partner
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Vanya Lozzi, Partner
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Cameron Sheather, Partner
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Breellen Warry, Partner
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Lindsay McGregor, Partner
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Alexander McNutt, Special Counsel
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Peter Holt, Special Counsel
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Construction and Infrastructure (Projects and Procurement)
Scott Alden, Partner
T: +61 2 8083 0419
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources.