Copyright, fair use and the Australian Constitution

Pappalardo, Kylie & Fitzgerald, Brian (2015) Copyright, fair use and the Australian Constitution. In Fitzgerald, Brian & Gilchrist, John (Eds.) Copyright Perspectives: Past, Present and Prospect. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 125-164.

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There has been much debate over recent years about whether Australian copyright law should adopt a fair use doctrine. In this chapter we argue by pointing to the historical record that the incorporation of the term 'copyrights' in the Australian Constitution embeds a notion of balance and fair use in Australian law and that this should be taken into account when interpreting the Australian Copyright Act 1968.

English case law in the 18th and 19th centuries developed a principle that copyright infringement did not occur where a person had made a fair use of a work. Fair use was generally established where the defendant had made a productive use that did more than alter the original work for the purpose of evading liability, and where the defendant had made an original contribution to the resulting work. Additionally, fairness was shown by a use that did not supersede or prejudice the market for the original work.

At the time of including the copyright power in the Constitution, the UK Parliament’s understanding of “copyrights” included the notion of fair use as it had been developed in U.K. precedent. In this chapter we argue that the work “copyrights” in the Australia Constitution takes its definition from copyright in 1900 and as it has evolved since. Importantly, the word “copyrights” is infused with a particular meaning that incorporates the principle of copyright balance. The constitutional notion of copyright, therefore, is not that of an unlimited power to prevent all copying. Rather, copyright distinguishes between infringing copying and non-infringing copying and grants to the copyright owner only the power to control the former. Non-infringing copying includes well-accepted limitations on the copyright owner’s rights, including the copying of ideas, the copying of public domain works and the copying of insubstantial parts of copyrighted works. In this chapter we argue that non-infringing copying also includes copying to make a fair use of a work.

The sections that distinguish infringing copying from non-infringing copying in the Copyright Act 1968 are sections 36(1) and 101(1), which define infringement as the doing, without licence, of an “act comprised in the copyright”. An infringing copy is an act comprised the copyright, whereas a non-infringing copy is not. We argue that space for fair uses of copyrighted works is built into the Copyright Act 1968 through these sections, because a fair use will not produce an infringing copy and so is not an act comprised in the copyright.

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ID Code: 91292
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Copyright, Constitution, Australian Constitution, Fair Use, Infringement, Copyright Act 1968
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-15913-3_8
ISBN: 9783319159126
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland
Deposited On: 17 Dec 2015 00:36
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2015 18:45

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