The Making of Copyright Law: Notes from an Australian Perspective

Cochrane, Thomas G. (2002) The Making of Copyright Law: Notes from an Australian Perspective. Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 33(4), pp. 242-249.


Copyright law has become a more central concern in recent years. Australian law, having developed from its Anglo-Saxon roots, has been updated in accordance with international treaty obligations and changes described as the 'Digital Agenda'. This article generally describes the processes used and describes different ways of law making. It attributes significant appropriate influence to the library perspective in the present result in Australia.

Understanding and dealing with the law of copyright is not a popular pastime. It has this in common with other aspects of commercial property and trade law, but it is, of course, a matter of greatly increasing interest in the library profession. At the 2002 meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), for example, it was quite noticeable that sessions on copyright matters attracted very large attendance, somewhat to the surprise of organisers whose expectations were low based on previous experience with this theme.

The reason for this is, of course, the extraordinary importance and complexity of issues that have been revealed by the advent of the digital age, and which continue to excite commentary from a range of interests, by no means confined to lawmakers. As Pamela Samuelson (the well known US academic and copyright commentator) remarked at the 2002 WWW conference, '... one reason why a new politics of intellectual property is necessary is that copyright now affects everyone'.[1]

This contribution considers the general principle of copyright law initially, comments on the mechanism which has developed in Australia for the review and development of change in the law before the digital age, and then reviews what has happened in the light of what has come to be known in this context as 'the digital agenda'. In doing so the broad social principles underlying copyright, together with the development of the importance of international law treaty obligations comprise significant elements in the picture.

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ID Code: 5
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Copyright, Digital agenda, Internet treaties, Library, Libraries
ISSN: 0004-8623
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES (080700) > Librarianship (080706)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Intellectual Property Law (180115)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Technology, Information and Library Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 04 Jun 2004 00:00
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2010 12:37

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