Introduction

Introduction

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5214-9.ch001

Abstract

The subject of “authorship and copyright” is an extensive field, encompassing a vast area of research possibilities, spanning areas of law and humanities. This book is situated at the intersection of copyright legislation and literary critical theory on the issue of authorship of written work. The writer, poised at this nexus, has drawn together data from a range of primary sources, namely Australian authors, publishers, and specialist academics, as well as secondary data analysis of legislation, case law, author contracts, and literature in this field. Significantly, it reflects the views of authors in a challenging transitional period that incorporates issues such as the Google initiatives, the parallel import debate, and the shift from traditional print to electronic publishing. The book aims to provide a snapshot of this purposive sample of Australian authors’ perspectives on copyright issues at a pivotal point in history when authors find themselves between the old and the new, grappling with the realities of traditional expectations and digital advances in publishing. Furthermore, the book sets out to position Australian authors in the changing and expanding literary public sphere within which they find themselves, with reference to global considerations. There has been very little other research on Australian authors’ views on copyright, and the changing copyright landscape brought about by the Internet provides an important, if unwieldy, environment in which to investigate authors’ perceptions of this legal concept that impacts so intrinsically upon their creative rewards.
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Background

Issues that emerged whilst mapping the course of recent copyright developments included authors’ changing perceptions of the value of copyright, problems associated with the current copyright structures and the changing inter-relationship between authors and the publishing industry. It was evident that the literature showed limited research on these issues, specifically as they pertained to the subaltern sphere* of authors, and how this group related to the broader public sphere of existing Government structures and the global publishing environment. A closer examination of these issues, specifically how the author sphere intersects with other competing spheres in this changing milieu and how the resulting tension between authors’ interests, publishers’ interests and the public interest impacts on the author’s practice as creator, forms part of this book.

The 1999 Australian Copyright Council report, Copyright in the New Communications Environment: Balancing Protection and Access addressed ‘the new communications environment and the future role within it of the main exceptions to copyright infringement’. It examined the balance struck in Australian copyright law between the protection afforded to copyright creators and owners and exceptions to infringement which provided access to copyright materials for certain uses and how that balance was being altered by developing digital communications technologies (McDonald, 1999). The study informed some of the 2000 and 2006 amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), discussed in Chapter 2.

Other examples of copyright research undertaken in recent years include reports such as the Economic perspectives on Copyright law by The Centre for Copyright Studies Limited (The Allen Consulting Group, 2003) and the Productivity Commission Report on Copyright Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books, (Productivity Commission, 2009). Previous reports such as the Report of the Copyright law Committee on Reprographic Reproduction (Franki, 1976) and the Review of Intellectual Property Legislation under the Competition Principles Agreement (Ergas, 2000), which are discussed in Chapter 2, dealt with Australian copyright legislation and provided insight into the grounds and justification of Australian copyright law.

A more recent study, Do you really expect to get paid: An economic study of professional artists in Australia (Throsby & Zednik, 2010), concerned the income of Australian artists. The study, an extensive research project funded by the Australia Council, involved 120 occupations, including writers, dancers, musicians and visual artists. Another study, What’s your other job? A census analysis of arts employment in Australia (Cunningham & Higgs, 2010) dealt with the employment of artists from different occupations in Australia. However, these reports focussed on the arts industry as a whole and not the writing industry specifically.

In May 2008, the Queensland University of Technology conducted a survey, limited to academics, on Academic authorship, publishing agreements and open access. The study was designed to provide evidence of the attitudes and practices of academic authors in Australia in relation to publication and dissemination of their research, in order to inform the effective management of copyright in the Australian research sector (Austin, Heffernan, & David, 2008).

A further study funded by the Australia Council, A case for literature: the effectiveness of subsidies to Australian publishers 1995-2005, dealt with the extent to which the Literature Board’s publishing subsidy program had been effective in supporting the publication of Australian literary titles (McLean, Poland, & Van den Berg, 2010). It assessed the contribution this publishing subsidy program made to Australian literary culture during the period 1995-2005; however, it did not address the issue of subsidies made specifically to authors.

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