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One New Thing
Thursday, January 29, 2004
 
One New Thing: In a global information-sharing community, why do we have such differences in copyright law?


After reading a Libref-L post about copyright, I was interested to see how the same situation could be handled under Australian copyright law. The Australian Copyright Council has a great collection of Information Sheets that clearly set out the rules of copyright compliance for Australian material. I haven’t had much opportunity to be involved with acquisition and maintenance of the collection in the library I am in, and therefore haven’t done much delving into copyright beyond Fair Use, so I was quite surprised to find that under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act U.S. libraries can make a backup of software in case an original disc is damaged or stolen…but Australian libraries aren’t able to do this unless damage has already occurred. (Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted?)

What concerns me more, though, is that millions of people these days get their information from online communities. Hopefully library workers would know better than to accept advice without confirming it elsewhere, but if I were an average person looking for information on a listserv, would the possibility that copyright laws could be so different occur to me?

I discovered that there are international treaties dealing with copyright which Australia is a party to, but these don’t seem to be heading towards uniformity, more toward assuring at least a minimum standard of protection to copyright owners.

Doesn’t ease much of the confusion!

I’ll add the Australian Copyright Council site to the NLRP directory, under Librarianism.

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