New article on the role of parody in Australian copyright law

Nic Suzor, PhD candidate at QUT, has a new article in the Media & Arts Law Review that is worth a look.

Citation is: Nicolas Suzor, ‘Where the bloody hell does parody fit in Australian copyright law?’ (2008) 13(2) MALR 218.

The title of the article refers to this spoof of the Australian Tourism’s ‘where the bloody hell are you?’ advertisement.

Here is the abstract:

This article examines the role of the recently introduced fair dealing exception for the purposes of parody and satire in Australian copyright law. Parody and satire, while central to Australian expression, pose a substantial challenge for copyright policy. The law is asked to strike a delicate balance between an author’s right to exploit their work, the interests of the public in stimulating free speech and critical discussion, the rights of artists who rely on existing material in creating their own expression, and the rights of all artists in their reputation and the integrity of their works. This article highlights the difficulty parodists and satirists have historically faced in Australia and examines the potential of the new fair dealing exceptions to relieve this difficulty. This article concludes that the new exceptions have the potential, if read broadly, not only to bridge the gap between humorous and non-humorous criticism, but also to allow for the use of copyright material to critique figures other than the copyright owner or author, extending to society generally. This article will argue that the new exceptions should be read broadly to further this important policy goal while also being limited in their application so as to prevent mere substitutable uses of copyright material. To achieve these twin goals, I suggest that the primary indication of fairness of an unlicensed parody should be whether or not it adds significant new expression so as not to be substitutable for the original work.

You can access the article here. It is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) 2.5 Australian licence. See also Nic’s blog at

IP enforcement taken too far?

Today, one of Wired’s top stories is “Senate Introduces IP-Reform Bill Bolstering Enforcement”. The abstract in my RSS feeds caught my attention: “Legislation bolstering intellectual property enforcement by increasing penalties, expanding the power of the attorney general and creating a new FBI piracy unit was proposed Thursday in the Senate.”

An FBI Piracy Unit???

Isn’t that a little extreme? I think that the US Justice Department has forgotten that at the end of the day, “piracy” is just copying a song or moving visual image. That’s all. What’s more, it is traditionally a civil action between two parties – the copyright owner on the one hand and the alleged infringer on the other. The community-at-large is generally not harmed. I think it’s time the Justice Department stop doing the entertainment industries’ legal work for them.

The article quotes Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge and a communications attorney, who said, “This bill would turn the Justice Department into an arm of the legal departments of the entertainment companies by authorizing DOJ to file civil lawsuits for infringement, forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.”

Read the full story here.

Book Review: Tech girls are chic! (not just geek!)

At the CCI conference I was fortunate enough to meet Jenine Beekhuyzen, IT consultant and PhD candidate at Griffith University, who together with Rebecca Dorries has compiled and edited the book, Tech girls are chic! (not just geek!). The book was inspired by Beekhuyzen and Dorries’s experiences in the IT industry, which even in this day and age remains dominated by males, and is an effort to get girls aged 12-16 interested in careers in IT.

From the Tech girls are chic! website:

Tech girls are chic, not just geek is a fun new book showing that it takes all types of people to work in Information Technology (IT). Our 16 ‘tech girls’ are women working in a range of technology jobs across Australia. They are a bunch of fun and funky women who find working with technology challenging and interesting, and they are far from fitting the stereotypical ‘geek’ image portrayed by the media. They use their technical and/or non-technical skills (usually a combination of both) to have a successful career in IT.

So who wouldn’t want to work with technology? There are heaps of jobs all over the world, travel to exotic locations, interesting and challenging work, and you often don’t have to work in a boring office. Sounds like a great career? We think so! So why do so few people (especially girls) choose this type of career? That’s a great question. Researchers have been trying to uncover this mystery for many years, and conclude that the industry has a serious image problem. The stereotype is that working with technology is boring, and that you have to be nerdy and spend all day in front of a computer alone. This is not what Information Technology (IT) is all about. Once you see the book you will see why! You can see a bunch of fabulous gals who work with technology every day; and they love it…

Jenine was kind enough to give me a free copy of the book. It is small, pink and oh so pretty (perfect for the target audience). It profiles 16 women in the IT industry, and each woman has section in the book consisting of:

  1. a profile page containing a small paragraph written about themselves, a colour photo and other quirky designs;
  2. a “question and answer” type page covering a variety of topics ranging from ‘what is your job’ to ‘what is your favourite girly movie’ and ‘what handbags and shoes do you own’ (clearly to demonstrate the feminine “chic not geek” side to the women); and
  3. interestingly, a short (2 page) fiction piece, written by each woman, presumably drawing on her own life experiences. I especially enjoyed, “Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” by Julie Kilner, about male/female stereotypes in IT (it rather comically considers the “World of Warcraft” IT boy stereotype).

The book is clearly written to a target audience of young girls, but notwithstanding I had fun reading this text. It is light but informative, and scattered throughout the book (amongst the stories and pictures) are advertisements for IT degrees at universities, links to helpful websites and “what do I do next?” guidance. I think that young girls interested in IT would find this book helpful and accessible.

The book can be ordered online by contacting the authors via the Tech girls are chic! website. Sponsorship has been raised to allow the authors to distribute the book free to secondary school girls across Australia.

(Side note: the website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (BY-NC-ND) licence).

Notable presentations at the CCI Conference

Graham Vickery
from the OECD presented on the Participative Web.

He described the participative web in the following terms –

New web services, readily available software and high speed broadband enable:

  • development and customisation of content
  • commercial and non-commercial use of the “collective intelligence” of internet users
  • users contribute to developing, rating, collaborating and distributing Internet content and interacting with other

He spoke about the new business models that are emerging in response to the participative web. He identified five basic business models:

  1. voluntary contributions/giving away
  2. charging viewers for user created content (UCC) services – pay per item or subscriptions (including bundling)
  3. advertising-based
  4. licensing to third parties
  5. selling other goods and services online

The question for the future (and the present!) will be: how do we remunerate creators? By revenue sharing or content payment or…?

Jessica Coates from Creative Commons Australia (Ccau) spoke about issues surrounding how “commercial” and “non commercial” are defined in relation to Creative Commons licences.

Oli Wilson from the New Zealand band, Knives at Noon gave an enlightening presentation about how his band used Creative Commons licences to distribute their music and gain notoriety. You can read more about this or view a video of Knives at Noon speaking about their use of Creative Commons on NZ TV here.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald from QUT Law Faculty gave a comprehensive overview of the many legal issues still inherent in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and areas of copyright law that are sorely in need of consideration, including:

  • authorisation of copyright infringement by ISPs etc;
  • wider exceptions to copyright infringement, include for transformative use;
  • the application of fair dealing exceptions to the online environment;
  • orphan works;
  • the overlap of copyright law with other areas of the law, such as designs;
  • TPMs, circumvention devices and region-locking;
  • [And a bunch of others which I wrote down and then lost, and I can’t for the life of me remember now. ..If I do, I will amend this post].

[Any or all of these topics would be excellent for a Masters or PhD thesis].

Professor Fitzgerald suggested four fundamental reforms that would go a long way to making Australia a leader in copyright and innovation policy, being the introduction of clear rights to:

  • reuse copyright material for non-commercial purposes in circumstances where there is no financial detriment to the copyright owner;
  • engage in transformative and fair uses, including the right to communicate derivative works;
  • reuse Crown copyright material for non-commercial purposes; and
  • undertake format shifting in consistent circumstances for all copyright materials.

Nic Suzor from QUT Law Faculty had a very interesting presentation about the enforceability of EULAs and Terms of Use purporting to regulate virtual communities. Nic has written extensively about this topic on his blog.

Professor Christoph Antons, a Professor of Compartive Law and Director of the Centre for Comparative Law and Development Studies in Asia and the Pacific (CLDSAP) spoke about the internet and freedom of expression in Asia. His talk focused on a number of cases involving YouTube in countries including Thailand, India, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia. In these countries, it can be a crime to insult the King, the State, the national religion, or other traditional figures or leaders. As Professor Antons explains, videos screened over YouTube can be potentially more powerful tools for insulting than text messages, and messages conveyed via videos are immediate and reach a wider international audience. The conflict between internet tools such as YouTube and laws that forbid insulting – especially where the laws are phrased so that “insulting” is a subjective test [a huge concern!] – can be immense.

Ben Atkinson, a Research Fellow in the QUT Law Faculty and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Innovation, looked at the evolution of intellectual property law by reference to the revolutions involving real property, such as the French Revolution. Ben has just released a book entitled, The True History of Copyright: The Australian Experience 1905-2005, which can be purchased from the Sydney University Press website here.

CCI Conference: Overview

I thoroughly enjoyed the CCI conference. I thought it was well done and involved many incredible people from a wide range of disciplines, including law, journalism, creative industries (creative writing and literature, music, and the arts), education, cultural science and the humanities.

The conference structure consisted of a number of plenary sessions to the whole audience, and then a number of concurrent sessions broken down by “streams”. I was in the law stream (legal issues for social networks and creating public value) the entire time and while it was certainly very interesting, I was a little disappointed that I missed some of the sessions on citizen journalism, creative industry development agendas, broadband innovations and the creative economy, and creative capital and workforce futures that were running in the other streams. It would have been nice to mix things up a bit and truly have everyone intermingling.

The conference kicked off with a plenary from Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE, a renowned neuroscientist from the UK. The Baroness spoke about the impact of environment over genetic disposition and considered whether children today might hold shorter attention spans because of the influence of digital technologies such as videos and games in their lives – a theory that was somewhat provoking to the largely tech-centric crowd (particularly the educators). However, the talk set a good tone for the rest of the conference – a point made by Henry Jenkins – that all opinions could be voiced here, no matter how controversial. The conference ended with an audience feedback session which further cemented the ideals of openness that had been prevalent throughout the conference.

Overall, an excellent experience.

Remix my Lit

At both the CC Conference and the CCI Conference in June, Amy Barker and Elliott Bledsoe presented the new Creative Commons-based project, Remix my Lit.

Remix My Lit is a Brisbane based, international remixable literature project. The project aims to apply the lessons learned from music and film remixing to literature. The idea is for established writers to provide short stories under a Creative Commons licence that allows remixing, which emerging writers can then remix into new, original stories, also licensed under Creative Commons.

So far, Remix My Lit has stories available for remixing from:

  • Emily Maguire;
  • Damian McDonald; and
  • Cate Kennedy.

Remix My Lit will also be running a live literary remixing event at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in Federation Square on 30 August.

This is a great opportunity for emerging writers interested in exploring new writing techniques and new legal rights management frameworks. For more information visit the Remix My Lit website.

My Conference Presentation: CCI Conference

At the CCI Conference, Creating Value: Between Commerce and Commons, on Thursday 26th June, I presented a paper entitled, Promoting Open Access to Knowledge in a Web 2.0 World.

You can access the abstract of my paper here and my slideshow presentation here.

The subject of my paper was the new publication just released by the OAK Law Project (and authored by me), Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors. The guide is available on the OAK Law Project website, the OAKList website, or here.

I did take notes at both the CCI conference and the Creative Commons conference on Tuesday 24th June, which I intend to blog as soon as I have a spare moment. Things have been busy!

Upcoming Conferences

I will be attending all of these conferences in Brisbane in June and the coming months. They will be interesting and worthwhile experiences, and I encourage you to attend.

Building an Australasian Commons

Creative Commons Australia (Ccau) is hosting the conference, “Building an Australasian Commons” at the State Library of Queensland on 24 June 2008.

From the website:

The event provides an opportunity for those interested in the free internet to come together to exchange ideas, information and inspiration. It brings together experts from Australasia to discuss the latest developments and implementations of Creative Commons in the region. It aims to be an open forum where anyone can voice their thoughts on issues relating to furthering the commons worldwide.

The conference will be followed at 5:30pm by the second Australian ccSalon, which will showcase local talent.

The conference and ccSalon are free, but registration is required.

Creating Value: Between Commerce and Commons

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) will be hosting the “Creating Value: Between Commerce and Commons” conference from Wednesday 25th to Friday 27th June 2008 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Bank.

From the website:

This conference showcases some of the CCI’s own research projects, and features papers from academic, business, creative or public policy specialists on many aspects of value-creation in the context of creative industries and innovation.

I will presenting a paper at this conference, entitled, “Promoting Open Access to Research in a Web 2.0 World”.

Rates apply. For more information and to register, visit the CCI website.

Open Access and Research Conference

The OAK Law project (for which I work) is hosting the international “Open Access and Research Conference” on Wednesday 24th to Thursday 25th September 2008 at Stamford Plaza, Brisbane. Post-Conference Workshops will be held on Friday 26th September at Stamford Plaza.

Keynote speakers and distinguished commentators include:

  • John Wilbanks, Executive Director of Science Commons
  • Alma Swan, Founder of Key Perspectives: Consultants to the scholarly information industry
  • Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research
  • Dr Terry Cutler, Principal, Cutler & Company
  • Professor Mary O’Kane, Director and Executive Chairman of Mary O’Kane & Associates Pty Ltd
  • Dr Peter Crossman, Assistant Under Treasurer (OESR) and Government Statistician
  • Stevan Harnad, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton
  • Dr Richard Jefferson, CEO & Founder, CAMBIA and the BiOS Initiative
  • Professor Tom Cochrane, DVC QUT Division of Technology, Information and Learning Support
  • Professor Brian Fitzgerald, OAK Law Project and QUT Law Faculty
  • Dr Rhys Francis, Executive Director, Australian eResearch Infrastructure Council
  • Maarten Wilbers, Deputy Legal Counsel, CERN Legal Services

To register or for more information, including the conference program, visit the Official Website.

IASSIST 2008 Conference Session: Licensing, Privacy and Protection

Thomas Lindsay of the University of Minnesota gave a presentation entitled, The Digital Locked File Cabinet: A Problem Metaphor. His talk addressed: (a) interpreting Institutional Review Board (IRB) regulations and guidelines for human subject research – i.e. in relation to privacy and (b) data security where private information has been collected.

US Code: Protection of Human Subjects, created 1974 and revised 2005 – primarily biomedical and behavioural research, applied directly to all federally funded or conducted research – human subject research defined in 45 CFR 46.102(f)

Research obligations under law include:
1.minimise subjects risk through sound methodology
2.risks appropriate to benefits

Human subjects research in the digital age – online surveys, no face to face communication, written consent is often impossible (at least where a signature is required) and traditional data security measures do not apply.

Regulations that do not strictly translate to the digital age must be interpreted; panels make individualised case-by-case decisions (but often these decisions will conflict with other similar cases); do not always understand nuances of internet data security issues.

CLA Survey Services at the University of Minnesota has developed software and standards to deal with these problems. These include online consent forms, data security software etc.

CLA-OIT Survey Services (Case Study) –
Key Issues:

(1) Informed Consent

  • Title 45 part 46.117 – legislation requires informed consent – researchers must collect signatures from participants to indicate consent
  • Signature collection is not practical in most online research settings – vast majority of population is not set up for federally-recognised “digital signatures”
  • Compromise with IRB – consent form is first page of survey, consent form is identical to paper requirements, in place of signature a question is asked whether the participant consents, the participant can only continue with the survey if they say yes

(2) Required Answers

  • Can researchers require a participant to answer a question? This can conflict with the principle that a participant can withdraw consent at any time
  • Face to face is different to online – in face to face the researcher can intimidate – online a participant can never be truly forced to answer a question, because they can just shut the browser and walk away from the computer

(3) Data Security

  • Multiple layers of protection including encryption, dedicated database, passwords etc.

[I asked two questions:

(1)Have you developed a system whereby the participant can give varying levels of consent for use of their data when they begin the survey?
(2)What is the protocol if the participant does “close the browser and walk away”? Are they informed at the beginning of the survey that this will constitute a withdrawal of consent? Are they told what will be done with their data entered thus far if they decide to stop completing the survey?

Response: they have not done either of these things, but will consider both carefully. There may be some difficulties in convincing the researcher who is conducting the survey to agree to allow participants to give varying levels of consent, because the researcher usually wants to obtain consent to do everything they can with the data.]

IASSIST 2008 Conference Session: Data Discovery and Dissemination: Linking Librarians, Vendors and Archives

Terrence Bennett, The College of New Jersey
Austin McLean, ProQuest
Myron Gutmann, ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research)

This session centred on data in dissertations.

ProQuest UMI has a commitment to enter and maintain the dissertation or thesis in the scholarly records and make copies available according to the author’s choice for access and dissemination.

[My question: what mechanisms have you implemented to ensure that you are providing the level of access and reuse rights chosen by the author – do you use licensing mechanisms such as Creative Commons licences?

Their response: are looking into working with CC and Science Commons – we think its a great idea.]

Students engaging in the research process are seeking ways to enhance knowledge; they explore the possibility of using existing data and/or whether new data must be collected to best answer their research question.

In December, ProQuest began to facilitate the access of supplemental files – the form of these supplemental files is up to the institution and what they will accept (ProQuest will accept anything submitted by researcher).

ProQuest’s policy concerns for dissertations include:

  • Will the “published version” differ from the “preprint” version?
  • What permissions will need to accompany the dissertations?
  • Are institutions doing the robust check of permissions or are they expecting ProQuest to do this? ProQuest makes clear what they look at – not the content of the submission but only the forms completed by the student, and the title, the abstract and the table of contents of the dissertation.
  • What are the preservation expectations of the universities that submit dissertations to ProQuest?
  • What file types to university publishing partners expect ProQuest to commit to migrate?

Bibliographic citations enhance the value of data collections. So why not add a direct link to the data in the ProQuest online catalog?

Challenges: need for ProQuest to modify web page & get author permissions – would authors agree to provide a direct link to their data?


  • How do we protect student’s IP to ensure that they can publish and build their careers?
  • Who owns the data? – what if it is not the student, and it is a faculty member or another party?