The Down Under book and film remind us our copyright law’s still unfair for artists

The Down Under book and film remind us our copyright law's still unfair for artists

Nicolas Suzor, Queensland University of Technology and Rachel Choi, Queensland University of Technology

Australian copyright law is broken, and the Australian Government isn’t moving quickly to fix it.

Borrowing, quoting, and homage are fundamental to the creative process. This is how people are inspired to create. Under Australian law, though, most borrowing is copyright infringement, unless it is licensed or falls within particular, narrow categories.

This year marks five years since the very real consequences of Australia’s restrictive copyright law for Australian artists were made clear in the controversial litigation over Men at Work’s 1981 hit Down Under. The band lost a court case in 2010 that found that the song’s iconic flute riff copied some of the 1934 children’s song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree.

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