Category Archives: conference

Copyright Future Copyright Freedom Interviews now available

Last month, I blogged about the Copyright Future Copyright Freedom conference run by Professor Brian Fitzgerald of QUT Faculty of Law and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI). I mentioned that during the course of the conference, my colleague Nic Suzor and I had the task of interviewing some of the conference delegates about how they first became involved in copyright law and what their perspectives are on the future of copyright. These interviews are now available online, thanks to Jimmy Ti who has helped us build the website around the conference recordings.

We will continue to add to the interviews on this page. As part of the Copyright Futures project, we are hoping to generate a bulk of interviews (ideally around 50) from copyright experts around the world.

The video and audio of the full presentations at the conference will also be made available online in the coming weeks.

Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom conference 2009 – central themes

Some of the central themes and key points to come out of the conference were:

[Note – these are my notes and paraphrasing, not direct quotes]

  • Australia has typically followed UK and US movements in copyright law, often to our detriment. However, in some areas we are able to make independent copyright laws without offending international law (e.g. we could advocate for compulsory licensing of material for developing countries or for a thorough explanation of the Berne 3 step test). But will we do it? – Benedict Atkinson
  • The Berne three step test may have been interpreted wrongly – the steps, “do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work” and “do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder”, are not necessarily as broad as we think, and normal exploitation and legitimate interests do not always have to mean monetary compensation. Authors have many different interests in their work. Maybe we should think about them – Professor Susy Frankel

  • We need to get our minds around the true justification of copyright law, and the true interests of creators. These are often different to what the closed-access and permission-based model would have us think – Professor Adrian Sterling and many other conference delegates
  • Professor Adrian Sterling suggested a motto for the conference – “Easy Access; Easy Licensing”
  • The Hon. Michael Kirby amended this to “Easy Access; Justifiable Licensing”
  • We are creating a generation of criminals (“copyright pirates”) in our kids, who are used to downloading things from the internet and don’t see why this shouldn’t be allowed – we need to find a solution that prevents our children from being “criminals”. We need to do this in such a way that copyright is still respected, because otherwise we run the risk of revolution – having our children revolt against copyright law and call for its abolition – Professor Lawrence Lessig

  • In the digital environment, we need to give up our obsession with “the copy”. In an online environment, everything is a copy. Therefore, under the current copyright system, nothing can be done without permission and usually the payment of a fee. This is unsatisfactory. We need to focus on meanigful use as the reason for giving rise to the operation of copyright law requiring permission and/or payment – Professor Lawrence Lessig

  • We need to consider the cultural impact of copyright law, particularly for indigenous persons – Maroochy Barambah, Ade Kukoyi and Professor Susy Frankel

  • The key to innovation is information flows, especially within government and the public sector. To enable this, we need to free up copyright in public sector materials – Dr Terry Cutler

  • We need to look for new models of copyright and revenue-generation from copyright. One such model may be a benefit-sharing model, rather than a fee-based model – Professor Brian Fitzgerald

  • We need to rethink nearly everything we know about copyright law. We need to recognise that the idea/expression dichotomy is problematic. We need to recognise that users are situated within cultural and material spaces and limits and they use creative material in many, many different ways. We should acknowledge that copyright plays a relatively small role in the creative process, and that often creativity relies on the interplay between whatever is available and familiar (mass culture) and “play” or “serendipity”. Copyright serves goals that are primarily economic and which promotes predictability. This is important because it enables the production of mass culture. But the focus on economic fixity can frustrate the creative process of situated users. There needs to be logical gaps in the law to permit play, serendipity and freedom – Professor Julie Cohen

[Update: my colleague, Elliott Bledsoe, has done what I could not and blogged pretty much the entire conference. See the “Creative Commons Through the Looking Glass” blog]

Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom conference 2009 – why I am lame and did not blog

I returned last night from the Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom conference hosted in Canberra on 27-28 May 2009 [program available here]. I was hoping to live blog the conference (seeing as it was so interesting!), but unfortunately due to the historic nature of the venue (Old Parliament House) there were very few wired internet connections and no wireless connectivity. Peter Black (PeterBlackQUT) and Elliott Bledsoe (elliottbledsoe), who had their own internet connections (courtesy of some “dongles”), were tweeting during the day. You can follow their tweets at #copyrightfuture09.

I did take some notes during the day, but I have decided not to blog extensively on the individual presentations. Mainly because I feel that the fairly mediocre notes that I took do not do the presentations justice. There are some brief notes here, but nothing substantial.

QUT (which hosted the conference, convened by Professor Brian Fitzgerald), will be making the audio and video recordings of each presentation, and the relevant slide sets, available online under CC licences in the very near future (subject to presenter permission). I will post here when they are uploaded, so watch this space. The recordings are probably the best way to access the presentations for any who are interested. And I would highly recommend it, because most were brilliant.

Another reason I did not have much time to take detailed notes (excuses, excuses), was that (along with my colleague, Nic Suzor) I spent a great deal of my time running around with a low-quality mp3 recorder taking short (3-5 minute) interviews with some of the conference delegates. The interview questions centred around how each interviewee first became involved with or interested in copyright law; what they see as some of the main challenges and issues in copyright law; and what they see for the future of copyright. The interviews will also be made available online as podcasts, subject to interviewee permission. Interviewees included (among others):

Again, watch this space for notification of when the podcasts are available.

Conference – Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom

On 27 and 28 May 2008, Professor Brian Fitzgerald of QUT will host a conference, in Canberra, on the history and future of copyright. I will be attending this conference, and I am very excited about it! Details are below –

This conference – Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom – will be held at Old Parliament House (OPH) in Canberra on Wednesday 27th May and Thursday 28th May 2009. The month of May in 2009 marks 40 years since the commencement of the Australian Copyright Act of 1968.

Program Chairs: Professor Brian Fitzgerald and Benedict Atkinson
QUT Law Faculty and ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation

The conference will consider the history of copyright law with special focus on the excellent work of Benedict Atkinson on the True History of Australian Copyright Law (2007). It will also chart the path of copyright law since that time and give special focus to future possibilities.

The conference will be opened by the Honourable Robert McClelland Attorney-General for the Commonwealth of Australia and our Keynote Speaker will be Professor Lawrence Lessig of Stanford University Law School.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Julie Cohen, Faculty of Law Georgetown University Washington DC
  • Professor Tom Cochrane DVC QUT
  • Maroochy Barambah, Songwoman for Turrbal People
  • Professor Adrian Sterling, Queen Mary College London
  • Dr Terry Cutler, Cutler and Co Melbourne
  • Professor Susy Frankel, Faculty of Law Victoria University of Wellington NZ
  • Professor Anne Fitzgerald, Faculty of Law QUT
  • Dr Prodromous Tsiavos, London School of Economics London
  • Professor Phillip Graham, Director of iCi QUT

For further information on this conference please contact Professor Brian Fitzgerald
at QUT via email: [email protected]

Part of the conference will be held in the House of Representatives Chamber in Old Parliament House. As we are restricted as to the number of people that can be present in the House of Representatives Chamber the conference audience will be limited to 100 people.

Unlocking IP 2009 Conference – National and global dimensions of the copyright public domain

On 16 April, I will be attending the Unlocking IP 2009 Conference in Sydney, titled, “National and global dimensions of the copyright public domain”. Together with Professor Anne Fitzgerald, I will be presenting a paper on the intersection of IPR and standards. The abstract of our paper can be read on the Unlocking IP conference papers webpage.

Details of the conference are:

Unlocking IP 2009 Conference –

National and global dimensions of the copyright public domain

16-17 April 2009 – UNSW Sydney

UNSW’s Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre invites you to register now for an international conference from the ‘Unlocking IP’ ARC research project, which investigates how Australia’s digital commons, both the public domain and public rights created by open content and open software licensing, can be expanded and protected. It focuses on ‘self help’ actions within the existing statutory context, in Australia’s distinct legal and cultural context, and on comprehensiveness – we offer preliminary results from the first survey of Australia’s digital commons, with data from National Library of Australia.

The conference includes reports and case studies from the front line, where new models for sharing and trading intellectual property meet the reality of business, government and educational demands, new technological opportunities and lessons learned from implementation of licences like Creative Commons and Free for Education. Book publishing under hybrid business models at Sydney University Press, online user generated content using Wikimedia, and international initiatives like the US ‘’ and China’s IP abuse rule are featured, alongside detailed analysis of emerging legal and policy directions.

A highlight of the conference will be the launch of the 2009 Consumers International IP Watch List. Arising from the CI Access to Knowledge project, the list identifies countries whose IP policies and practices are harmful to consumers. It is used as a counterbalance to the United States’ “Special 301” Report, which is an annual report highlighting countries that supposedly do not provide strong enough protection for the interests of US intellectual property owners.

The venue is Law Faculty of UNSW, Kensington Sydney, close to beaches, parks and Sydney CBD.

For details of speakers and the program:

Register at:

CRC-SI Annual Conference 2008

This morning I attended the CRC for Spatial Information (CRC-SI) 2008 Annual Conference. The morning plenary was entitled, “Innovation in Australia” and was chaired by Peter Woodgate, CEO, CRC-SI. The session was opened (via video link) by Senator The Hon Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, who noted the increasingly important role of spatial information and who expressed a desire to “restore public good as funding criteria” when the Australian Government is funding research and development.

In this session, I found Dr Nicholas Gruen’s talk on Innovation in Australia especially interesting. My notes from his talk are below. They are a little rough – my apologies.

Dr Nicholas Gruen: Innovation in Australia

Information in the economy

What is the economy?

We used to think of the economy as “a thing which makes things”. But we now understand that there is more to economic policy than that. The economy is a “giant trading machine” – trade is important in our (new) concept of the economy. In economic policy reform over the last 30 years – including competition policy – trade is the basic theme.

But the economy is more than THAT.

It is also a “giant risk management machine” and a “giant information management machine”.

We have a mixed/hybrid economy – an ecology of public and private goods = markets are always this, they are not just private goods.

Firms compete according to standards, which are a public good (language, more, property rights and other laws, technical and trading standards); then firms compete in the private goods that fall within the gaps of the public goods.

“It is silly to talk of the internet as a private thing; it is not.”

Information is special – we need markets to harness distributed information and provide incentives.
Frederik Hayek – one of the more important things of a capitalist economy is its capacity to deal with distributed information

But markets dont handle information ideally either – Arrow, Akerlof, Stigliz – Information is a potential public good (reproduction is often costless) – best way for information to circulate in principle is for nothing (in cost) – standards are crucial to the passage of information (in ways that are much more integral than markets for trading for goods) – and standards themselves are a public good

Top down innovation in Government

We’ve been relatively good at it – e.g. secret ballot; HECS etc
We (here I think Nick is referring to the Innovation Review Panel as “we”?) recommended that we should further extend such innovative platforms – for instance HECS

Bottom up innovation in Government

This is the hard part
We looked at mechanisms to maximize the contribution of all levels of public sector innovation and also from the outside
Bottom up Innovation in the states (Vic) – e.g. Policy Idol – emerged from strategy workshop in the Premier’s Department – policy competition for junior officers – has been a very successful program

Then there’s government facilitating innovation elsewhere – the UK is pioneering various “challenge based” means of seeking to foster innovation

How to promote services innovations? –

The inadequacy of the tax concession

R&D tax concession works badly for services – to make it work you need to broaden the definition of R&D, then what happens is that firms in practice work out how to make their perfectly regular business activities fit within the new definition = not fair

Services innovation is often heavily regulated – finance, health, education – e.g. Rismark International

Permission to innovate?

regulation makes innovation difficult

We need innovation facilitation – we have major projects facilitation – we proposed something similar – Advocate for Government Innovation:

  • operate an Enterprise Challenge program
  • be a shopfront for “permission to innovate” processes
  • be bureaucratic champion for highly innovative firms and projects
  • help disseminate information about public sector information
  • provide resources to promote more flexible tendering

Innovation is often hard, but freeing up information is harder – e.g. Joshua Gans project to locate public toilets on iPhone – asked Department for permission to use information (which is available online) to make available on iPhone – Department said no because of contractual obligations; copyright issues etc.

The problem of serial veto – information has many hurdles to jump:

  • IP;
  • Contract;
  • permission hurdles;
  • “we see IP as a property law rather than some form of economic policy (like we now see competition policy)”;
  • compatibility of formats and systems,;
  • lawyers professional cultural of risk aversion and control maximization

Fragility in the face of serial veto – e.g. Patents v Open Source; open information v cultural of public service, legal profession and the media

Fragility amongst robust hazards – like trying to coordinating systems within houses: security alarm, lighting, sound, ventilation and air conditioning – we are still not very good at this, still seems like a “futuristic” concept

ANDS Workshop at eResearch Australasia Conference

On Thursday 2 September, I attended the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) Workshop at the eResearch Australasia Conference 2008. This was a full day workshop, but the ANDS team did a great job of keeping the workshop interesting and highly interactive, and the day went very quickly.

In the morning, there were a few brief presentations – notably from Andrew Treloar of Monash University and the ANDS Establishment Project and Tracey Hinds from CSIRO. I particularly enjoyed Tracey’s presentation, which at a conference that seemed dominated by IT issues, focused on the social issues and the governance issues involved in data management and sharing research data. My notes from Tracey’s talk are below.

The rest of the day was spent in small round-table discussions. The most lively discussion surrounded questions about what institutions and research bodies need to help them in managing and sharing their data, and how ANDS could help. The group found that there was a need for:

  • an openly accessible registry of ontologies for metadata of datasets, so that institutions can start using common and enduring metadata to describe their data;
  • training for researchers, repository managers, research management staff, librarians, archivists and IT staff about data management (including the legal issues surrounding data management), database/repository infrastructure (how to make the database easy to use and sustainable), open access (why should you share your data?) and metadata. It was agreed that the training materials might have a generic introduction component that could be used by all groups, but then there should be different kinds of training materials that provide relevant detail to different groups (e.g. research management staff will have different concerns to IT staff; science researchers may have different concerns humanities researchers);
  • developing conventions for the citation of data, so that researchers can get credit for sharing their data; and
  • proper and comprehensive data management plans (DMP).

There was a consensus that data management plans were particularly important and that it would be useful to develop template DMPs which included specific sections that could be added or deleted as appropriate (for example, a section about compliance with privacy laws might be relevant to medical research but not to astronomy research). It was also thought that ANDS could select a few research projects from different disciplines and assist these projects in formulating a DMP. The resulting DMPs could then be made available online for other projects to use and adapt.

In relation to ANDS selecting particular projects to assist, in a broader way, with their data management and release (“engagement targets”) in the hope that these projects might then appear as “exemplar projects” for other groups, it was considered that appropriate selection criteria might be:

  • broadness of audience and impact;
  • potential for reuse of data and the ongoing reusability/sustainability of the data;
  • the project’s willingness to assist others to develop their data management skills;
  • wide inter-disciplinary appeal;
  • willingness to transfer data around; and
  • projects which will have good exemplary value to attract other communities.

I believe that ANDS will make the notes taken from the workshop available online.

Here are my notes from Tracey’s talk:

Tracey Hind – CSIRO

  • ownership of data should stay with researcher
  • but still need to manage CSIRO’s data at a higher level – maybe provide an “enabling” service for this rather than dictate a “one size fits all” approach
  • As of now, CSIRO still does not formally recognise the idea of data management
  • Real challenges are not technology – it is the human factors – issues of acceptance, understanding, people being prepared to share their data, IP etc
  • High demand for storage, but storage is not management
  • Scientists are not working as well across disciplines as the Flagship vision as hoped, much of this is because “you don’t know what you don’t know” – and it’s hard getting insight into other research disciplines
  • Making data easily discoverable is the key to achieving multi-disciplinary outcomes
  • Lesson is that data is a complex issue – especially when researchers don’t understand the potential benefits – you need exemplar projects to demonstrate the benefits of data management to get buy in.
  • CSIRO’s data management vision (eSIM) – CSIRO scientists will be able to…gather, analyse and share scientific information securely and efficiently, leading to greater scientific outcomes for Australia
  • Four layers – people, processes, technology and governance
  • People challenges = incentives for deposit into a repository;
  • Processes challenges = making sure that the work flows created actually support the technology and make things easy
  • Governance = making sure all of this is properly funded and that data management is a part of the decision making (i.e. make sure researchers have a DMP before they are awarded funding)
  • CSIRO’s exemplar projects = Auscope project; Atlas of Living Australia; Corporate Communications

eResearch Australasia Conference 2008 – Tuesday morning (30 September)

John Wilbanks – Uncommon Knowledge and e-Research

Once again, John Wilbanks gave an informative and dynamic presentation. It was geared towards the audience in attendance here at the eResearch Australasia Conference (who are somewhat more IT and science focused than the audience at the OAR conference last week) and so described in detail many aspects of the NeuroCommons Project. If you are interested, I suggest that you see the Neurocommons website. I don’t think any summary that I could provide here would do the project justice. But here are some notes from the beginning of John’s presentation:

Why “eResearch”?

1. eResearch is a requirement imposed on us by the flood of data

  • the web doesn’t give us the same results for science as it does for culture
  • so what can we do?
  • We can…collaborate
  • Eg – Watson and Crick – their success was composed, by building on a series of blocks of knowledge that were available to them from a range of sources
  • But humans can’t build models to scale anymore
  • We need to utilize digital resources

One way to think about eResearch is that it is about:

  • Finding the right collaborator;
  • making big discoveries;
  • getting credit for one’s work

2. We need to convert what we know into digital formats that support model buildings

  • “the web” – no organising topics – hyperlinking allows us to organise things in a dynamic way
  • all the data and all the ides: building blocks
  • open access attempts to solve the legal problems – giving credit where credit is dues; allows humans to read the papers; allows publicly funded research to be accessed by the public
  • but it doesn’t solve the technical problem of paper-based formats that cannot be read by machines
  • we need to develop machine-searchable formats

Kerstin Lehnert, Columbia University – New Science Communities for Cyberinfrastructure: The Example of Geochemistry

Kerstin described eResearch as a vision to provide a genuine infrastructure of highly reliable, widely accessible ICT capabilities to assist researchers in their work – ultimately about people

She discussed the cultural issues involved in sharing data. She identified data citation (what I would call “attribution”) as a big problem. How can all scientists and contributors be cited? Many want to be attributed personally (not just by a project), but there are so many contributors and this quickly becomes a big and messy problem. This observation reflects the problem that we at the OAK Law and Legal Framework to eResearch Projects identified in assessing whether Creative Commons licences could be applied to data compilations. Attribution is an important condition of the CC licence. Researchers and research projects need to decide and identify (before applying a CC licence) how the data compilation is to be attributed, otherwise users could run into all sorts of problems and confusion.

Jane Hunter (UQ) – National Committee for Data in Science (NCDS)

A committee of the Australian Academy of Science – established in February 2008; member of CODATA

Mission – to promote enduring access to Australia’s scientific data assets in order to drive national research and innovation
And to provide a National Data Science voice
Encourage and facilitation cross-fertilisations, between specific science disciplines and other data generation/management disciplines

Future activities include engaging with Chairs of other national committees, including looking at what role they can play within ANDS (Australian National Data Service) to support their goals.

eResearch Australasia Conference 2008 – Cloud Computing

Monday – Plenary: Cloud Infrastructure Services Panel Session

Chair: Nick Tate, UQ
Tony Hey – Microsoft Research
Peter Elford – Cisco
Kevin Mayo – Sun Microsystems
Anne Fitzgerald – QUT

Tony – A Digital Data Deluge in Research

– outsourcing of IT infrastructure
– minimize costs
– small businesses have access to large scale resources
– eg – Virtual Research Environment run by British Library: content management; knowledge management; social networking; online collaboration tools
[similar presentation to at OAR conference]

Peter –

– is cloud computing really a new idea?
– don’t think so – still just software as a service
– so what is the “cloud”?
– do researchers struggle to get access to machines? – probably no
– but do they have problems managing them well – probably yes
– balance between technology, people and processes
– it is a natural evolution and another opportunity
– but not a disruptive technology

Kevin –

From point of view of building these systems:
– need a successful business model
– need to consider privacy and security in a global world
– need to understand technical considerations
– there are a number of services out there at the moment because they have managed to deal with the business model problems….
– …but they may not have effectively dealt with the other issues
– e.g. how you get your data to and from the service
– in the future – we might see: automating the collection and analysis of census data; climate data etc – with barely any interference by people

Anne –
– when we think of cloud computing, many legal issues come to mind: privacy, data security etc
– so far, adapting the law to the digital environment has developed in a very ad hoc manner
– so maybe we would be better to approach it from principles, I prose the following principles:

1. establishing trust in the online environment
– cloud computing = applications that can be accessed anywhere by anyone
– so issues of data security, privacy, reliability of the data and the service
– not much on this (beyond some privacy restrictions) in Australia at the moment

2. equivalence of traditional and online transactions
– need a set of rules to apply to online activities that are equivalent to traditional activities
– at the moment, attempt to transpose current laws in online environment = copyright, electronic transactions act
– but when we look at cloud computing we see this principle is not being applied in a consistent way
– need for clarification of concepts of ownership of data stored on someone else’s equipment
– vast difference between copyright licence given to Google for Google Docs – vs rights that would be given to someone in the real world who is storing and managing someone else’s documents (i.e. they would be given virtually no rights) – why the immense difference just because the storage and management occurs online?

3. Participation of Government in regulating online activities
– would enactment of legislation help or hinder here?

4. We need openness in this environment
– open standards and maybe also open source
– affordability of cloud computing can help to overcome the digital divide
– expectation of users is that they can access the service where and when they like

Development of laws and policies in this environment has occurred primarily at an international level (e.g. OECD – Seoul Declaration), but there is still no international body charged with regulating online commerce


Q: Ashley Buckle – Monash: not convinced that this is a solution for him running a small research lab – this is the problem: convincing people that this is for them, especially when they don’t want to be guinea pigs for new projects that may not work

A: Tony – you can only be convinced by something that works for you. There will be a variety of academic cloud services. But the real test is that it is easy to use, can be acquired easily and cheaply, and it should work for you and if it doesn’t work then you shouldn’t use it.

Q: If Microsoft and Google etc operate cloud computing services outside of the USA, does the Patriot Act still apply to them?

A: Not an expert on Patriot Act, but – we need to establish a uniformity or conformity throughout the world, after discussion among countries, and not just have one country’s law dominate, otherwise this could actual be a barrier to trade etc.

eResearch Australasia Conference 2008

I am currently in Melbourne for the week, attending the eResearch Australiasia Conference 2008, hosted by the Australian Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) at the Sebel and Citigate Hotels, Albert Park. The conference runs from Monday 29 September – Wednesday 1 October, then there are two days of workshops on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 October. I will be here until Friday. I will try to blog my notes as I go (subject to internet availability) and I will post my overall comments at the end.