Copyright, communications and new technologies

Date of this Version

January 1995

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Van Caenegem, William (1995). Copyright, communications and new technologies. Federal Law Review , Vol. 23, Iss. 2, pp. 322-347.

This article is accessible via the National Library of Australia's PANDORA website.


[extract] That said, this article does not presume to give a comprehensive review of rationales for copyright law. Rather, I will emphasize that the nature and potential of digital technology bring some policy issues sharply into focus. Primary amongst these issues is the fact that one of the Copyright Act’s principal aims is to promote the distribution of knowledge and information, for the benefit of society as a whole. As a consequence, copyright law must, in legal terms, be seen as constrained by the demands of a ‘freedom of communication’. From this perspective, at a time of unprecedented developments in the market for information, copyright law presents both potential threats and potential benefits which must be carefully considered. Further, emerging digital technologies throw new light on the nature of authorship, originality and imitation. A full understanding of these concepts requires an appreciation of the contribution copyright makes on the one hand to the general welfare of society, and on the other hand to the individual welfare of the author.

First, I will examine the interrelationship between copyright law and freedom of communication, both within the closed doctrinal system of copyright law and from the external viewpoint of a right or freedom of communication. Then I will consider digitisation and the future of copyright law, and will end with an attempt to draw some conclusions.

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