Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Public Domain, Copyright Law, and Creativity

Graeme W. Austin, Victoria University of Wellington, has published Property on the Line: Life on the Frontier between Copyright and the Public Domain as Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 5/2013. Here is the abstract.

This article is an edited transcript of Professor Graeme W Austin’s Inaugural Lecture, delivered in the Council Chamber of Victoria University of Wellington on 15 November 2012. Professor Austin was appointed Chair in Private Law in the Faculty of Law in November 2010. This lecture explores claims that in copyright law, the public domain is necessarily in opposition to proprietary rights, and suggests that in many contexts the incentives offered by copyright contribute to the vibrancy and volume of material that is available for downstream creativity and innovation. Drawing on his earlier work on the relationship between human rights law, Professor Austin’s lecture advances the idea that cognisance of the human rights dimensions of intellectual property, including creators’ human rights, should inform conceptions of the property domain of copyright law. The lecture concluded with a warning against the “Walmartization” of copyright, according to which the only policy concern is lowering the price that consumers pay for copyright-protected material.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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