Copyright Holders

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Introduction Commons now a days is defined as the set of several elements that include “literature, art, music, film, design, radio, television, software, information and heritage sites”. Commons have been characterized into different classes which are- digital commons and environmental commons. Digital commons as defined by Mayo Fuster is the resources of information and knowledge, which are developed and possessed or distributed among two agencies or people that are freely available to the public. Public domain refers to those creative works whose rights of intellectual property or commons have been expired or have lost the copyright. These works are now available to public but are unavailable for the non-government agencies to own it. For example the plays written by Shakespeare and the theories or laws formulated by albert Einstein. Opposite of this is copyrighting, which refers to the legal ownership of a specific work by its creator and the creator have rights to use its work publicly and distribute, though for a limited period of time. The work that have been copyrighted to a particular person or an agency is said to be “under license” or “with permission”. This essay inter relates these three terms and specifies that how copyright holders enclose the commons and what is its effect on the public. Copyright Term The Australian copyright law establishes the policies and laws for the rights of creators and works of artists. After amendment, Australian copyright law 1968, defines the scope of copyright in the country. There has been a lot of extension in copyright terms throughout 20th century. On 1 may 1969, Australian copyright act 1968 came into existence. The first major amendment occurred in 1974, when the government of Whitlam authorized Copyright Law Committee, headed by Justice Franki, to look over the effect of reprographic reproduction on Australian copyright law. The committee was also given the power of examining the influence of Xeroxing and “to recommend any alterations to the copyright law of Australia to effect a proper balance of interest between owners of copyright and the users of copyright material in respect of reprographic reproduction”. The other power or work of the Australian Copyright Law is to set the copyright term that is the time interval assigned to an agency or person to have the ownership of commons. “plus 50” rule was used in Australia before 2004, according to which the copyrighted work or commons was put in the public domain for 50 years after the death of owner. But this law was amended in 2006 and was changed to “plus 70” that is Putting the work in public domain for 70 years after the death of owner. This “plus 70” rule is also used by the other countries like United States of America, and the other countries included in the European Union. As per Berne convention, the minimum time in between the death of creator and entering of his work in public domain is 50 years. Crown copyright is not included in this extension from “plus 70” to “plus 50”. Moreover, according to “plus 70” rule-
  • The work is out of copyright if it was published in the lifetime of its creator, who died before January 1, 1955
  • The work is out of copyright even after 70 years of the creator’s death, if the work was published in the lifetime of its creator, who died after December 31, 1954
  • The work is out of copyright even after 70 years of its publication, if the work was published after the death of its creator
The work is indefinitely open for copyrighting which was never published by its creator. Pictures, audios, movies and other commons are copyrighted for 70 years after their publication. Whereas video and audio broadcasts are open for only 50 years of copyright after the first broadcasting year. The copyright term generally depends or starts, after the creator’s death, from the day of its first broadcast or publication or performance. The period of 70 or 50 years is considered to start from the end of the concerned calendar year. Except for the commons falling under the “Rule of shorter term”, it is important to note that the country from which the work originates, the country where the work is published or the nationality of the creator are not the key aspects of the copyrighting. Copyright term may differ from country to country. Extension to plus 70 There have been frequent debate regarding the extension of copyright term to “plus 70” from “plus 50”. Many people find this extension of copyright unconstitutional as when the expiry date of copyright comes, the copyright holders demand or bargain the government and mostly extends the right of ownership on existing works, due to this the general public is deprived of the benefit that was due to them under the Australian copyright law and is considered as theft of intellectual property from the general public. When the government does not grant extension to the current copyright holders, then they protest by considering the non-extension of their works as theft. The 70 years of extension to copyright seems to be illogical as most of the owners are dead by then. The extension is done to benefit the family of the owner, who might die before his ownership ends. But this extension of copyright also deprives the future generation and force them to wait a little longer to get the ownership of past work as the work is neither under the ownership of its creator nor it is in the public domain. So people consider the extension as legal theft of their intellectual property. According to section 51(xviii) of Australian constitution, it is under the power of federal parliament to “copyright commons, patent inventions and designs and trade mark”, without concerning about limiting the time interval of ownership. Moreover, according to section 51(xxxvi), it is under the power of federal parliament to establish policies for “the acquisition of property on just terms from any state or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws”. So it can be said that the copyright extensions to “plus 70” is unconstitutional unless the general public are properly remunerated. RIP: A Remix Manifesto, which is a documentary investigating the issues of copyright also talks about the copyright extensions of existing works. According to this documentary, with the copyrighting the future open source cinema is becoming less free and to make these societies free government has to limit the tie interval of ownership of existing works. This documentary distinct the copyrighting from the public domain and promotes the free flow of information and art (Galor 2008). Impact of Internet Culture is nothing but the sharing of behaviors, ideas and artifacts among people. This creates a passing of standards from one generation to another. Internet was started for the communication but now affects the way that culture is created and shared. Because of the internet, now culture of various societies can be more easily explored and one can know about one’s culture just through a search engine. So one can learn culture even without experiencing it and he or she can decide if he/she is interested or not on experiencing it. Because of this uniqueness of culture has diminished. So the internet will keep changing the way culture is shared and created with its increasing use. It is important to keep a look on this effect so that we can limit the negative effects and increase the positive effects. Australian government is working for minimizing the negative effect through Stop Piracy Act and Protect IP Act. Fair Use According to copyright law of Australia it is definitive that legal enforceable creator’s rights of creativity and artistic works under the Australian law have to be done with fair dealing. The copyright scope in Australia has a definition in Australian copyright act in 1968 having application throughout the Australian national law. Designs have to be covered through Copyright Act along with the Design Act. According to legislation of Australian the basis is on the section 51 authority of the copyright law in Australia which is federal and has an establishment through the parliament of Australia. When looking into the past, the copyright law of Australia was followed by copyright law in Britain but now it has a reflection of international standards that are found in the convention of Berne as per the Literary protection and Artistic working scenarios and other agreements of International copyright. This also discusses multilateral treaties and most recently consists of the free agreement presented by U.S-Australia agreement. The clear exception to the infringement of copyright in Australia has an emergence under the heading of fair dealing. This concept is somewhat comparative to the concept of fair use in U.s and in Australia is considered as a work used specifically in recognition to something whose copyright cannot be violated. However, fair use has specific range purposes that vary by work type and the possibilities consists of reviewing and criticizing, researching and studying, reporting the news, proceedings of judicial aspects or advice in professional legal dimensions along with parody and satires. For using a fair use, it is important that any of these mentioned purposes are fair. Dependence of what can be termed as fair is on the circumstances that include work nature, the use nature and the use effect on all the commercial markets throughout the working dimensions. There is therefore, a specific divisions are responsible for fair use in Australia. These comprise of exceptions special division applied with the help of computer programs, special exceptions of division in public places and the licenses of statutory framework which must be allowed to be used by schools, universities and also the licensing fee payment set either through copyright tribunal or through agreement. There is also a recognition of temporary copies under the Australian copyright law. These copies are stored under the memory of the computer with a term used as reproduction falling under the exclusive right owner copyright aspects. There are temporary copies exceptions present as well but these are not to be considered. Now, it becomes important to understand that copyright has to be taken care from the perspective of copyright. The copyright which is owned by an owner requires the owner to consist of a legal document. This legal document should contain a detail of the first publication and the name of the owner. In addition, the copyrights owned by the government are the ones which do not infringe any copyright if there is an action. The authority here Is only the government. So, if a copyright is owned by the government then it Is not free use until the government mentions this. Not only general public and future generation is working or protesting against the copyright extensions, but some authors also criticize this extension. One of these writers is Lawrence Lessig, who in his book “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World” criticizes this extension. According to him the copyrights do help the authors in terms of recognition and reward but long term copyright can destroy creativity and innovation as “future always builds on the past”. This book also highlights the protests of several organizations that promote the protection of intellectual property (Lessig 2001). Conclusion After going through all the government laws and individual aspects regarding the copyright and extension it can be concluded that general public is against it while current copyright holders are for the extension of copyright. It is clear that copyrighting is not the issue but its extension do suppress the creativity and innovation. After reviewing the “Building an Australasian Commons: creative commons case studies”, it can be said that the Australian Creative Commons is impressively working for the benefit of public by lobbying for the promotion licenses for free content and policies for open access of information. They are educating Australian government, cultural agencies and educational institutions by their conferences and campaigns. So, more work is required to make the government aware of the negative effect of copyrighting and the issues related to it (Creative Commons 2013 ). References Building the Australasian Commons: Creative Commons Case Studies, Volume 1. Galor, Brett 2008. RIP: A Remix Manifesto. National Film Board of Canada, EyeSteelFilm. Lessig, Lawrence 2001. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. New York: Random House. 1
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