Friday, May 29, 2009

Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom conference 2009 - central themes

Some of the central themes and key points to come out of the conference were:

[Note - these are my notes and paraphrasing, not direct quotes]
  • Australia has typically followed UK and US movements in copyright law, often to our detriment. However, in some areas we are able to make independent copyright laws without offending international law (e.g. we could advocate for compulsory licensing of material for developing countries or for a thorough explanation of the Berne 3 step test). But will we do it? - Benedict Atkinson
  • The Berne three step test may have been interpreted wrongly - the steps, "do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work" and "do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder", are not necessarily as broad as we think, and normal exploitation and legitimate interests do not always have to mean monetary compensation. Authors have many different interests in their work. Maybe we should think about them - Professor Susy Frankel
  • We need to get our minds around the true justification of copyright law, and the true interests of creators. These are often different to what the closed-access and permission-based model would have us think - Professor Adrian Sterling and many other conference delegates
  • Professor Adrian Sterling suggested a motto for the conference - "Easy Access; Easy Licensing"
  • The Hon. Michael Kirby amended this to "Easy Access; Justifiable Licensing"
  • We are creating a generation of criminals ("copyright pirates") in our kids, who are used to downloading things from the internet and don't see why this shouldn't be allowed - we need to find a solution that prevents our children from being "criminals". We need to do this in such a way that copyright is still respected, because otherwise we run the risk of revolution - having our children revolt against copyright law and call for its abolition - Professor Lawrence Lessig
  • In the digital environment, we need to give up our obsession with "the copy". In an online environment, everything is a copy. Therefore, under the current copyright system, nothing can be done without permission and usually the payment of a fee. This is unsatisfactory. We need to focus on meanigful use as the reason for giving rise to the operation of copyright law requiring permission and/or payment - Professor Lawrence Lessig
  • We need to consider the cultural impact of copyright law, particularly for indigenous persons - Maroochy Barambah, Ade Kukoyi and Professor Susy Frankel
  • The key to innovation is information flows, especially within government and the public sector. To enable this, we need to free up copyright in public sector materials - Dr Terry Cutler
  • We need to look for new models of copyright and revenue-generation from copyright. One such model may be a benefit-sharing model, rather than a fee-based model - Professor Brian Fitzgerald
  • We need to rethink nearly everything we know about copyright law. We need to recognise that the idea/expression dichotomy is problematic. We need to recognise that users are situated within cultural and material spaces and limits and they use creative material in many, many different ways. We should acknowledge that copyright plays a relatively small role in the creative process, and that often creativity relies on the interplay between whatever is available and familiar (mass culture) and "play" or "serendipity". Copyright serves goals that are primarily economic and which promotes predictability. This is important because it enables the production of mass culture. But the focus on economic fixity can frustrate the creative process of situated users. There needs to be logical gaps in the law to permit play, serendipity and freedom - Professor Julie Cohen
[Update: my colleague, Elliott Bledsoe, has done what I could not and blogged pretty much the entire conference. See the "Creative Commons Through the Looking Glass" blog]

1 comment:

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