Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
Unlocking IP research projectNew models for sharing and trading intellectual property
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‘Mapping Australia’s Copyright Commons’

NB: This position has now been filled.


A research team led by Professor Graham Greenleaf (co-director of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), and the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre at UNSW ) has recently been awarded an ARC Linkage Grant for a project entitled “Unlocking IP: Expanding public rights and the public domain in Australian copyright” (LP0562485). This three-year project is based within the Faculty of Law at UNSW. There are two APA(I) PhD research positions commencing in early 2006; the first is the subject of this document. The successful candidate must accept the position by the end of 2005.

Although copyright law and practice is usually seen as concerning private (proprietary) rights in works, public rights and the public domain are of vital importance to both innovation and democracy. The expression ‘the tragedy of the commons’ has summarised the assumption that private property rights were necessary for efficient or even sustainable, resource management. More recent research suggests that under certain circumstances public or common property regimes are sustainable and some resources cannot be allocated efficiently by markets, and are better shared by institutional arrangements based on commons.

Finding ways to expand the creation and use of public rights, to enhance innovative and public discourse, particularly in the Australian context, is at the heart of research project.

There are four main topics of the proposed research (the first two of which are the focus of this APAI’s work):

  • Analysing public rights – theory and taxonomy
  • Licences involving public rights – consistency, simplicity, effectiveness, implications
  • Finding works with public rights more effectively
  • Incentives and requirements to expand public use rights

There is a background paper with more detail at:

The participants in this project include many of Australia’s leading academic researchers in intellectual property law; industry partners in the software, IT, educational licensing and content field; and authors of the key local licences in this field. The successful applicant will spend some of their time working with these participants.


Applicants for this position must:


  • be an Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen;
  • hold a relevant degree in law preferably with first class honours, or with other indications of capacity to work at equivalent level, such as at least second class honours and/or significant research experience in industry;
  • not have completed a PhD or its equivalent
  • have some knowledge of information science or IT although this is advantageous but not essential;


  • The award will be provided for three years
  • An annual, tax-free stipend of $26,000 will be provided each year.
  • The APAI recipient will be exempted from HECS charges.
  • Other allowances including relocation expenses and thesis allowance will be payable. The student will also receive some financial support for research travels and conference presentation.

Proposed supervisors include Professor Graham Greenleaf and Associate Professor Kathy Bowrey from UNSW. Industry advisors with expertise in the law and application of these licences will be available for support and collaboration. See also the background paper for the other relevant investigators.


The successful applicant must:

  • commence full-time study in a UNSW Law or IT PhD Program in Session 1, 2006.
  • write a thesis in an area relating to the theme of ‘Mapping Australia’s Copyright Commons’. This will involve an analysis and definition of commons in a range of related domains (including open content, software, and standards) under Australian copyright law and practice. It will compare developments in these domains, analyse of the extent to which there exists a distinct Australian copyright commons, and consider its significance.


Interested persons should read the background material and contact:

David Vaile (Unlocking IP project manager)
Executive Director,
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, UNSW
Sydney NSW 2052
Tel: 02-9385 3589, Fax: 9385 1778,
Email: d.vaile [at]

Applications should be received by 13 December 2005 and must be accompanied by the “Australian Postgraduate Award Industry Application Form” attached to this electronic document or at

About UNSW Law Faculty

UNSW Law Faculty is one of the pre-eminent Law Faculties in Australia with over 2000 students enrolled each semester in 9 major programs in the Law School involving more than 20 Intellectual Property, IT and Communications specialist courses, as well as significant research activity. < >

About the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre (CyberLPC)

The CyberLPC at UNSW provides a focus for research, public interest advocacy and education on issues of law and policy relating to digital transactions in cyberspace. The Centre's work covers intellectual property in digital artefacts, e-commerce, government services by Internet, PKI and encryption, Internet governance, privacy and access to information in digital records, to name only a few. < >

About the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII)

AustLII is a joint facility of the Faculties of Law at UNSW and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia and is one of the world’s largest providers of free access to legal information. Its policy agenda is to improve access to justice through better access to legal information. Its search engine and other tools have been adopted by other free access law providers around the world. < >

(For details about the other participants and research partners in this project, see the background paper referred to above. This is version 11 of this document. For the latest version of this document see )

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