Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Considering copyright in a digital world - the 2013 Australian Digital Alliance Copyright Forum

Copyright is one of the battlefields of the digital age, with the ability to rapidly copy and distribute works via digital channels challenging 20th century industries that have relied on traditional copyright laws to profit and thrive.

It is also a key area for governments, who vary in their approach to copyright around the world.

From the US where material created by their Federal government is, by default, owned by the public, to the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and others, where governments are transitioning from closed copyright systems (what the government creates with public funds is owned by the government) to more open ones (the government owns the copyright but assigns the right for the public to reuse it with caveats), to closed systems which exist in many other jurisdictions around the world (what the government creates with public funds, the government owns and can sell to the highest bidder).

There's continuing scrutiny, review and debate over the 'right' setting for copyright - with the companies who only exist due to copyright (book publishers, movie and music producers) often at odds with their own customers, who wish to share books, music and video material they enjoy.

The current Australian Law Reform Commission's review into the topic, Copyright and the Digital Economy, is still ongoing (until November 2013), and copyright is likely to remain an area of contention for decades as digital continues to evolve and force a rethink of who owns or gets to exploit the value in created works.

So it is timely that on 1 March this year the  2013 Australian Digital Alliance Copyright Forum is being held in Canberra at the National Portrait Gallery to consider how Australia's copyright framework fits in with the 'digital world'.

This impacts on government agencies in as profound a way as it impacts on the commercial sector. Governments across Australia still sell significant amounts of copyright material and, despite progressive transition to open licensing, most of their 'back catalogue' remains under restricting copyright rules.

So I suggest that anyone interested in copyright consider attending this forum - there's a great line-up of speakers and likely to be much thought-provoking discussion.

For more details visit the Australian Digital Alliance's website: http://digital.org.au/content/2013-australian-digital-alliance-copyright-forum

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