A quick update on copyright

July 21, 2017

Things change rapidly in the world of copyright. Here’s a quick roundup of all the latest news.

Who stands to gain from Oz copyright changes?

Copyright Agency Board member, journalist Chris Pash, revealed in a Business Insider article the interests and alliances that stand to gain from proposed changes to Australian copyright law. He writes: “Lobby groups behind a high-profile campaign on Wikipedia urging a switch to US-style copyright law in Australia have links to interests, including multinationals such as Google, which will gain substantially from any change to a so-called ‘fair use’ system.”

Google funds allegedly independent research

The Guardian’s Olivia Solon revealed in an article on 13 July that Google had funded 329 papers on public policy in the US and Europe since 2005, to try to influence public opinion and policymakers.

The US-based Campaign for Accountability (CfA) said “Google uses its immense wealth and power to attempt to influence policymakers at every level. At a minimum, regulators should be aware that the allegedly independent legal and academic work on which they rely has been brought to them by Google.”

Canada’s York University loses copyright lawsuit

Meanwhile in Toronto Canada, a much-anticipated legal case tested the changes to that country’s copyright laws which had led to a number of universities using copyright material for free when they had previously paid for it. The Federal Court of Canada’s Justice Michael L. Phelan wrote: “It is evident that York [University] created the guidelines and operated under them primarily to obtain for free that which they had previously paid for.” Several other universities use guidelines similar to those established by York, the judge noted in his decision reported by Paola Loriggio in The Globe and Mail.

Artist Richard Prince again tests US ‘fair use’ copyright principles

Finally, notorious US appropriation artist Richard Prince, who has faced court many times over his use of other people’s work, was back in court for his use of photographer Donald Graham’s image Rastafarian Smoking a Joint (1996), which he enlarged from Instagram for his New Portraits show at New York’s Gagosian Gallery in 2014. Laura Gilbert writes in The Art Newspaper, a Federal Court judge in Manhattan rejected Prince and the gallery’s request to dismiss the infringement case. The case will be watched closely for its interpretation of ‘fair use’.

Can you name a book or song that changed your life?

Visit www.changedmylife.com.au and watch Rove McManus, Tara Moss, Jackie French and Matthew Reilly speak about their life-changing experiences. You can post about yours too and make the pledge to #respectcreators because #freeisnotfair.

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