Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
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Friday, February 06, 2009


Digital Britain Report, revisited

Last week I wrote a very short post about the interim Digital Britain report. But I've been reading more of TechnoLlama's analysis, and it's... not very positive. At all. I'm sure I gave the impression last week that the British government was being progressive with this, but then I read Andres Guadamuz's latest post. So that this blog post isn't too short, I'll quote a paragraph:
Continuing with the coverage of the interim Digital Britain report, something has been bothering me since I read it, so I went back and browsed through it again until I realised what it was. According to the UK's chief technology policy-makers, we still seem to be living in the 20th century. Why? Several reasons: the only mention to Web 2.0 is in the glossary; some of the technologies being pushed are proved failures with the public; it believes DRM offers a solution to piracy; it blatantly ignores the content delivery revolution that is about to take place; but most importantly, it ignores user-generated content by insisting on the outdated view of the top-down content provider.

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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.

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Friday, January 30, 2009


Should we change the law? or the prople?

Via Jessica Coates, I quote directly:
Those interested in digital copyright policy might be interested in the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport's 'Digital Britain' Interim Report, which was released this week.

Section 3.2 seems particularly relevant:

'There is a clear and unambiguous distinction between the legal and illegal sharing of content which we must urgently address. But, we need to do so in a way that recognises that when there is very widespread behaviour and social acceptability of such behaviour that is at odds with the rules, then the rules, the business models that the rules have underpinned and the behaviour itself may all need to change.'

It also recommends the creation of a Rights Agency to:

'bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.'
I like the idea that the Government might not just be about maintaining the status quo. I often feel that the 'majority opinion' concept is ignored (not only in the field of copyright).

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