Copyright laws stuck in a VHS world

Did you know that you could receive five years in jail and a fine of $93,500 for sharing a YouTube video that isn’t your own? Did you know that it is illegal to post a photo your friend took of you onto your Facebook page? (Feery, 2013) How about copying a DVD you own to your tablet device, using a line of a childhood song in your new work (Creationistas, 2013), creating a funny meme, playing music off your iPod at a funeral, or even creating a search engine? (Huynh, 2013) These now everyday activities are all breaches of Australian copyright law.

ILLEGALRight now, however, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is considering revising these outdated laws (Timson, 2014) to allow people to sample or transform original, copyrighted work for the purposes of reporting, commenting, criticism, satire, education or parody (Creationistas, 2013). Such a change would celebrate amateur culture and encourage transmedia storytelling in ways which stimulate competition and innovation, facilitating the growth of today’s new participatory, read-write culture (Larry Lessig, 2007). It is expected, however, that Digital Rights Management (DRM) laws, which restricts access to digital products and prevents unauthorised copying (Moore, 2014), will intervene with Fair Use provisions (Turner, 2014), as well as the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement which may require ISPs to filter their internet communications for any possible copyright infringements (Dreyfus, 2013).

Some of the designs available for 3D printing on Thingiverse

The benefit of introducing fair use of copyrighted material is that all creative acts will be permissible as long as they are in fair conduct, that being, for non-commercial use. This would accommodate the emergence of 3D printing as individuals would be able to freely engage in a remix culture and DIY design whilst still protecting creators from exploitation. At the moment, most 3D printing companies, such as, permits users to unlimited prints for personal use, with the designs being subject to Creative Commons licenses and Terms of Service contracts.  However, intellectual property owners continue to fear issues such as unintentional infringes on patents (bchilds, 2013), as well as the ability to circumvent these laws without detection (Lawrence, 2013). This will prove to be a major challenge for  policymakers who are being encouraged by the Australian public to democratise, not criminalise creation.


Want to see what copyright laws your infringing? Watch the video below.


Reference List

Feery, J., 2013, ‘Australia’s Crazy Copyright Laws’, Australia and New Zealand Relations: Blog, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.

‘Copyright is Broken’ 2013, Creationistas, retrieved 21 March 2014, <>.

Huynh, T., 2013, ‘Copyright law is broken: You may be inadvertently breaking the law’, TechGeek, retrieved 21 March 2014, <>.

Timson, L., 2014, ‘Copyright reform needed to drive economy: Labour’, The Sydney Morning Herald: itpro, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.

‘Copyright is Broken’ 2013, Creationistas, retrieved 21 March 2014, <>.

‘Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity’ 2007, video, TED, retrieved 17 March 2014, <>.

Moore, C., 2014, ‘Platforms, Permissions and Ideologies in Technological Convergence’, notes from Lecture 3 of Convergent Media Practices as The University of Wollongong.

Turner, A., 2014, ‘Why deny US-style Fair Use copyright laws to Australians?’, The Sydney Morning Herald – Digital Life, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.

Dreyfus, S., 2013, ‘Why The TPP Means You’ll Pay More For Your Internet Access’, Gizmodo Australia, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.

bchilds, 2013, ‘What are the Patent Law Questions Raised by 3D Printing?’, LLM Info, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.

Lawrence, J., 2013, ‘3D Printing: legal and regulatory issues’, Electronic Frontiers Australia, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.

‘Creationistas – Australian Copyright Is Broken’ 2013, video, The Creationistas, retrieved 22 March 2014, <>.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s