Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
Unlocking IP  |  About this blog  |  Contact us  |  Disclaimer  |  Copyright & licencsing  |  Privacy

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


The True History of Copyright - Policy Observations

I just found, picked up, and perused The True History of Copyright on housemate Bond's desk (see her original post here). Ben Atkinson has done a lot of research into the context in which our copyright laws have been made. I haven't read it all, but just looking at the contents I was interested by the last chapter: Chapter 15 - Policy Observations. These observations are of particular interest to me because it's something I will be addressing in my thesis. But I still thought they were of general enough interest (at least to readers of this blog!) that I'd share the headlines with you:
  1. The Berne Convention precipitated the creation of modern copyright law
  2. Early legislators tried to qualify the scope of copyright
  3. 20th century legislators paid little attention to the question of incentive or production
  4. Copyright does not confer an automatic right of remuneration
  5. Legislators did not try to "balance" the interests of owners and users
  6. Copyright legislation regulates taxation in gross of non-commercial (or non-competing) users to the detriment of public welfare
  7. The structure of the Australian Copyright Act reflects sectional interest
  8. Public interest considerations were raised consistently in policy and legislative debates
  9. The pursuit of authors' rights led to the creation of analogous producers' rights
  10. Copyright protection did not cause the economic success of the copyright industries
  11. APRA's revenue demands led to the creation of Article 11 bis(2) of the Berne Convention and the Australian Copyright Tribunal
  12. The record industry asserted the mechanical performing right opportunistically
  13. The role of individual agency is underestimated in analysis of copyright
  14. The commercial struggle for control over the broadcast of sport precipitated the Gregory Committee enquiry
  15. The origins of Australian copyright policy orthodoxy lie in the Spicer Report and the second reading in the Senate of the 1968 Copyright Bill
  16. The parallel importation provisions of the Australian Copyright Act were carried over from imperial legislation
  17. Australian legislative debate has seen two great statements of principle: the first over the posthumous term and the second over import controls
  18. The content of the modern copyright law of Australia is the entire creation of international conventions and British precedents
  19. Doubts over term persisted at the official level until the 1950s
I suppose the above list is pretty much a summary of the conclusions of the book. Of course there are 422 pages leading up to those conclusions, and the conclusions are 19 pages longer than I've presented them above. That is, these statements are supported by significant in-depth research.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 02, 2008


State Library of New South Wales on Flickr Commons

Being a very dedicated PhD student, I spend a lot of time in libraries, and the State Library of New South Wales is one of my favourite to visit. The Mitchell Collection of the State Library, housed next to the Domain, is in my view one of the best libraries in Australia and houses an immense collection of colonial (and yes, more recent) documents.

On a recent trip when I was undertaking research into colonial publishing practices, I was lucky enough to access a copy of Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, which was published as part of Petherick's Collection of Favourite and Approved Authors. That series, published by E.A. Petherick & Co. was one of the few series of books published by local publishers. The copy of Tess that I handled was a beautiful book, published in 1892. The State Library staff kindly informed me that there were more recent editions of Hardy that I could have a look at...and then looked slightly confused when I wanted a copy of the inside covers of the book (which contained a listing of all the books in the Petherick can read exactly why I wanted to see this when I finish my thesis in about six months time).

This walk down memory lane is an avenue for announcing that the State Library of New South Wales has just released rare Australian photographs from its archive onto Flickr. If that copy of Tess was anything to go by then there are going to be more than a few cultural gems released as part of this collection. You can find the complete photostream here but I thought I would include one photo in this post, which would allow me to continue my time travel through Australian history:

Sir Isaac Isaacs and Lady Isaacs, photographed by Sam Hood, from the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, featured on the SLNSW Flickr photostream here, persistent URL here.

For those of you who are not familiar with Sir Isaac, he was Australia's first native-born Governer-General and the 3rd Chief Justice of our High Court. Sir Isaac dissented in the first case on the power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to copyrights, patents of invention and designs, and trade marks (section 51(xviii)) in Attorney General (NSW) ex rel Tooth & Co Ltd v Brewery Employees Union of NSW.
This concludes today's lengthy lesson on Australian copyright and cultural history!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Rowling Wins in 'Harry Potter Lexicon' Case

This just in...JK Rowling, the author of those books about a fledgling wizard, has won her case against the unauthorised publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, based on the website of the same name. Housemate Abi originally blogged about the case here. According to the Sydney Morning Herald report on the case, following the decision Rowling stated that:
"The (Lexicon) took an enormous amount of my work and added virtually no
original commentary of its own. Now the court has ordered that it must not be

"Many books have been published which offer original insights into the
world of Harry Potter. The Lexicon just is not one of them."
According to reports it is likely that the decision will be appealed. More can be read at the Sydney Morning Herald here or for those in the mood for some lighter reading, at the Internet Movie Database here.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Sherman and Bently now in paperback

I realise that I may be a bit behind the times in writing this post, but I was very happy yesterday when I picked up from the UNSW bookshop my new paperback copy of The Making of Modern Intellectual Property Law by Brad Sherman and Lionel Bently. According to the paperback version was out in March, but I think there may have been a bit of a backlog. Nevertheless, this paperback edition joins a growing collection of paperback copyright editions on my office bookshelf, including all the Lessig tomes, and Rethinking Copyright by Ronan Deazley. Handy, and slightly less damaging to the hip pocket of a PhD student too!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


'Ideas' Now Free

Lawrence Lessig's seminal work The Future of Ideas has now been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 licence and can be freely downloaded off the Internet. Read more on Lessig's blog here or download the book here.

This completes what I will describe as Lessig's trilogy in four parts: all four of his books (Code and Other Laws of Cybersapce, Code v 2.0, The Future of Ideas and Free Culture) are now available under various Creative Commons licences.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


New Book: 'The True History of Copyright: The Australian Experience 1905-2005'

Ben Atkinson, formerly of the NSW Attorney General's Department, has a new book to be released in November, titled 'The True History of Copyright: The Australian Experience 1905-2005'. The Sydney University Press site on the book states that "The purpose of this book is to examine the historical record - concentrating on the development of copyright law in Australia - to determine the truth of modern assumptions about the origins and function of copyright law." I'll post a book review after it becomes available.

There aren't many books focusing on the history of Australian copyright, so this book will be a welcome addition to the literature. 2007 is shaping up to be a very good year for copyright scholarship, both in Australia and internationally.

Details: Benedict Atkinson, "The True History of Copyright: The Australian Experience 1905-2005", 2007, Sydney University Press, ISBN: 9781920898458. Introduction by Brian Fitzgerald. Find out more and pre-order here.

Labels: ,


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?