This year's Copyright Forum - focusing on all things fair

(photo: fair use myths for rebuttal by Constance Wiebrands)

What is fair? That was the question that opened this year’s ADA Copyright Forum, setting the tone for a day of discussion of fairness, its practicalities and its opportunities at the National Library of Australia on 24 February.

Continuing on from last year, the 2017 Forum had a great turn out - one of our largest ever. And it’s hardly surprising, with a line up featuring a whole pile of the world’s top copyright experts in one room at one time - Peter Jaszi, Bill Patry, Michael Geist, Pat Aufderheide, Sean Flynn, & Sang Jo Jong. Add to that the Deputy Chair of the Productivity Commission, Karen Chester, and it was a day that was bound to include insights, revelations and eloquent exchanges.

As the conference theme - Fair use, Flexibility and Exceptions for Creativity - made clear, the day focused particularly on fair use and the benefits of flexibility in copyright systems, both for users and creators. From the opening speech by Karen Chester to the fair use panel that followed and the afternoon keynote by Pat Aufderheide, the principle message of the day was that there was much to be gained from loosening the reigns of the copyright just a bit, and not as much to lose as some would have you believe.

A lot of the day focused on mythbusting - whether it be clarifying (again) that the Productivity Commission didn’t actually recommend a reduction in the copyright term; or that fair use wouldn’t mean the end of all collecting societies and copyright royalties; or that creators will get creative benefits from flexibility in copyright. The international speakers from countries that have fair use were particularly well placed to clarify how it operates in practice, and respond to arguments that it would be bad for the economy, destroy the publishing sector, or be too uncertain to be practical. The audience had a big influence on proceedings too, and drew out the speakers’ opinions on issues such as the importance of licensing whenever possible and what fair use would mean for specific industries such as video gaming.

But the Forum wasn’t all about fair use and we managed to get in some updates on is happening in copyright more generally. We had reports on some of the latest research being conducted about and by the libraries community, a rundown on changes being implemented by Creative Commons, an overview of some of the important and not so important copyright developments in 2016, and a final panel session focusing on the realities faced by creators in attempting to use copyright material.

The good news for those unable to attend, either in person or virtually - all the talks are now available on our Youtube channel. You can also access a transcript of Karen Chester’s keynote on the Productivity Commission’s website. And for the full details of the Forum, including the program and speakers biographies, check out the ADA website.

As always, we would once again like to thank all our speakers and everyone who attended, and in particular those who asked questions and made the day so dynamic. We look forward to seeing you all in Canberra again next year.

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