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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Regulating ride-sharing in the peer economy

Our new paper is now available: Witt, Alice, Suzor, Nicolas P., & Wikstrom, Patrik (2015) Regulating ride-sharing in the peer economy. Communication Research & Practice. 1(2), pp 1-16 The rise of the peer economy poses complex new regulatory challenges for policy-makers. The peer economy, typified by services like Uber and AirBnB, promises substantial productivity gains Read more about Regulating ride-sharing in the peer economy[…]

QUT launches new Digital Media Research Centre

Exciting news! I am absolutely delighted to announce the launch of our new Digital Media Research Centre. I’m privileged to be a Chief Investigator along with a great group of leading media scholars. I’ll be leading a program of research on the regulation and governance of networked society. In Brian McNair’s words: Queensland University of Read more about QUT launches new Digital Media Research Centre[…]

QUT IP submission on copyright infringement website blocking Bill

Here is our submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s review of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015. We argue that safeguards are necessary to ensure human rights are adequately protected. All systems of blocking access to online content necessarily raise difficult and problematic issues of infringement of freedom of speech and Read more about QUT IP submission on copyright infringement website blocking Bill[…]

QUT Submission to Australian copyright notice scheme

We have just lodged our submission to the Communications Alliance draft industry code to introduce a copyright notice scheme.

In making this submission, we suggest that Australia learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, and avoid some of the mistakes that have been made. In particular, this involves:

  • Ensuring that adequate information is available to evaluate the success of the scheme
  • Ensuring that notices sent to consumers provide full and accurate information that helps them understand their rights and options

  • Limiting the potential abuse of the system, and particularly attempts to intimidate consumers into paying unfair penalties through ‘speculative invoicing’

  • Avoiding the potential for actual or perceived bias in the scheme’s oversight body

You can view the submission here.
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Can you copyright a feeling? Blurred Lines may be the biggest music copyright case of 2015

By Nicolas Suzor, Queensland University of Technology and Kylie Pappalardo, Queensland University of Technology The year is still young, but this week a judgement was handed down in what may well be the biggest music case of 2015. Marvin Gaye’s children have won a copyright law suit against Robin Thicke (no stranger to controversy) and Read more about Can you copyright a feeling? Blurred Lines may be the biggest music copyright case of 2015[…]

Forced negotiations and industry codes won’t stop illegal downloads

Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced yesterday that they expect internet service providers (ISPs) to work with copyright owners to help police infringement.

ISPs will have to agree to a new industry code that passes on warning notices to their customers when copyright owners make allegations of infringement against them. They will also have to start handing over the personal details of subscribers who have several allegations against their name.

The government also plans to introduce an obligation for ISPs to block access to file sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay.

These announcements are better than the government’s last attempt to force ISPs to negotiate, which would have made a mess out of copyright law for everyone. But there are still real problems, and the measures will probably increase the cost of internet access for little, if any, benefit.

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Should social network platforms enforce human rights? IGF 2014 Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility

At the 2014 Internet Governance Forum, the Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility met to discuss the role of private intermediaries in enforcing social norms and law. One of the most interesting points made by Rebecca McKinnon was that corporations have some (limited) responsibility to protect human rights (see further UN, ‘The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Read more about Should social network platforms enforce human rights? IGF 2014 Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility[…]

The game of clones and the Australia tax: divergent views about copyright business models and the willingness of Australian consumers to infringe

In a forthcoming issue of the UNSW Law Journal, Paula Dootson and I write about the effect of restrictive copyright licensing practices on the willingness of consumers to infringe copyright. This builds on Paula’s PhD work, and we present qualitative evidence to support the common intuition that the lack of access to legitimate content distribution channels increases the willingness of consumers to infringe copyright. But surpisingly, consumers do want to pay for access at a fair price if they can, and they’ll go to significant lengths to do it (like setting up a VPN to access netflix or itunes from another region).

We’ve made a pre-publication draft of the article available.
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Intermediary liability: two submissions to AGD Online Copyright Infringement consultation

We’ve just lodged two submissions to the Attorney-General’s Department consultation on Online Copyright Infringement. The first submission is from the QUT IP & Innovation Law research group. This submission gives a good overview of a few important points: Copyright infringement in Australia at the moment should be thought of as predominantly a market problem, and Read more about Intermediary liability: two submissions to AGD Online Copyright Infringement consultation[…]