Australian copyright law originated in the year 1911 and was based heavily on British copyright law and International copyright agreements. At this time, copyright was primarily used to protect the intellectual property of authors and cartographers for their predominantly tangible based works and ideas. Since then, technology has evolved dramatically and its expansion is now incorporated into a large aspect of creative and professional fields, posing the challenge to cover creative property strictly by copyright law. Along with this development of technology, legislation and copyright protection has transformed to suit these styles, such as the introduction of Creative Commons licences (cc) which provides “free licences and tools that copyright owners can use to allow others to share, reuse and remix their material, legally.”
Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) is the current legislation used within Australia introduced with the aim to promote the success of intellectual authors and creators by granting them ownership or exclusive rights of their work for a specific length of time. 21st Century Copyright states that, “as laws struggle to catch up with our rapidly moving digital century, we are working to let creativity flourish, protect the rights of creators and provide viable products for consumers.” Due to the extreme development of technology in the past decade, the availability and accessibility of material on the Internet has made illegal copying difficult to monitor and as a result, copyright law tough to enforce. In many cases this illegal activity does not pose much of a threat to the original creator or author where the copying is used for educational or non-profit purposes.
As mentioned previously, Creative Commons licenses have been introduced to promote a balance between the author/creator of a work and the interest of the general public. Here, the public is given the opportunity to use copyrighted material but are limited by certain provisions, often concerning correct referencing or citing of the material. It can be debated that the introduction of Creative Commons licenses has not solved the issues surrounding the enforcement of copyright legislation as the problem lies within the ease of access to copyrighted works and the complication of obtaining an efficient copyright, which will be governed effectively. Both of these problems have risen and are significant in the 21st century due to the rapid development of digital media. The legislation in place is not effective and is rarely enforced.
Within, How Creativity is Being Strangled By the Law, Lawrence Lessig builds his argument around the view that “plagiarism is the only crime for which the death penalty is appropriate,” (Lessig, p157). He speaks of two changes that need to be made within copyright law, adapting to the fact that creative resources are so easily accessible to everyone today. The first is that “we need to distinguish between taking someone’s work and just duplicating it versus doing something with the work that creates something new,” Lessig, p164). Secondly, he suggests that “we have to recognise we’re a decade into a war on piracy that has totally failed” (Lessig p164).
Lessig, L. (2012). How Creativity is Being Strangled By the Law. In M. Mandiberg (Ed.), The Social Media Reader (pp. 155-169)0. New York, USA: New York University Press.