‘Creativity and transformative use’, Presentation at ADA Forum, 01 March 2013

Today I gave a talk at the Australian Digital Alliance annual forum: ‘Creativity and transformative use.

My topic was copyright exceptions as they relate to creative reuse. If we accept that creativity is ordinary and iterative (borrowing, copying, reusing is how we learn and communicate), then a transformative use exception is primarily an exercise in line-drawing. Unfortunately, we don’t have any real agreement about where to draw these lines between infringement / not-infringement. In particular: when should copyright owners be able to refuse to license their work? When should copyright owners be remunerated for uses of their work? Who should set the rate? And when does a requirement to license undesirably operate to stifle valuable downstream uses?

I think we need a lot more public debate about these issues, because we don’t have a clear idea of the purpose of Australian copyright law. I think this causes a lot of trouble when both sides of the debate end up talking past each other.

(See my related paper: Nicolas Suzor, “Access, progress, and fairness: rethinking exclusivity in copyright” (2013) 15(2) Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 297 (PDF).)