|Title:||From vault to honesty box: Australian authors and the changing face of copyright|
|Citation:||Cantatore, F. (2014). From vault to honesty box: Australian authors and the changing face of copyright. Bond Law Review, 25(1), 5.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The first sample of face-to-face interviews with 17 published authors. A second sample of online surveys was completed by a larger group of 156 participants from the ranks of published Australian authors.|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Copyright in written work is facing unprecedented challenges in the digital era. The changing face of copyright requires a re-evaluation of the existing norms and theories of copyright as an inanimate phenomenon that is reliant on humans for its adaptations. This article examines authors’ responses to these developments in the context of the philosophical theories underpinning copyright law, current Australian legislative and judicial considerations, and the impact of e-publishing on traditional perceptions of copyright protection. In particular, the article incorporates findings from a research study conducted with Australian authors on their perceptions of the value and meaning of copyright and how these viewpoints affect their creative practice, as well as their ability to deal with digital copyright challenges and publishing opportunities. In taking cognisance of these research results and considering the concurrent evolution of digital copyright models, this article proposes that there is a need to address the tension exhibited between the utilitarian approach, characteristic of Australian copyright law, and the natural rights views of authors, to create a sustainable balance.
Main Results of the Study
- Significantly, more than half of respondents responded negatively to the statement ‘I regard copyright as an incentive to create’. However, just over 60 per cent responded positively to the statement ‘Copyright is a consideration for me when I create’. This figure rose to almost 90 per cent in relation to the following statement: ‘Copyright is a consideration for me when I publish my work’. These responses suggest that most respondents regarded copyright as an important consideration in the publishing process, rather than during the creative process, possibly due to the immediacy of having to deal with this issue in publishing contracts and royalty considerations.
- During the in-depth interviews, the responses appeared to support those generated by the online survey but also further revealed the relationship between authors’ perceptions of copyright and creative expression. Eleven of the interviewees expressed the view that they did not regard copyright as an incentive to create and perceived it as having minimal or no influence in their approach to their work, whereas five respondents said it was an important consideration in their practice. However, five of the negative respondents qualified their answers by adding that, although copyright did not motivate them to write, it was an important issue to be considered once they had created the work. These respondents were emphatic in their viewpoint that copyright afforded them no creative motivation, some authors even expressing surprise at the suggestion.
- Both groups - over 90 per cent of respondents - overwhelmingly agreed that they were ‘mostly motivated by personal satisfaction.’ However, nearly 46 per cent also agreed that they were ‘mostly motivated by achieving recognition’, indicating that there was some overlap in their purpose, with some respondents being equally motivated by personal satisfaction and achieving recognition. A variation in the fulltime and part-time group responses was however evident in relation to financial incentives. Although the majority of authors (83 per cent of part-time and approximately 66 per cent of full-time authors) disagreed that financial gain was their primary incentive, as expected, full-time authors attached more value to financial considerations.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- There is a need to address the tension exhibited between the utilitarian approach characteristic of Australian copyright law, and the natural rights views of authors, to create a sustainable balance.
- Copyright requires a re-assessment in the digital environment. At the very least, Australian publishers and authors should apply close scrutiny to the terms and conditions of international electronic licensing agreements such as Google and Kindle agreements. There is a concern that unless checked, the power of the individual – both author and localised publisher – may be sliding backward as global publishing giants advance forward.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Interviewed author|
|Period of material under study:||2011|
|Level of aggregation:||Online surveyed author|
|Period of material under study:||2011|