LAW4251 - Advanced copyright: Global law and policy - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Not offered in 2017


Students in this unit are required to have completed Copyright & Designs as a pre-requisite in order to give them the foundations necessary to tackling the complex legal, theoretical, political and pragmatic considerations that influence global copyright law. The unit will commence with an introductory lecture drilling into the philosophy and theoretical justifications for copyright. The remainder of the classes will take the form of seminars, with each focusing on a specific copyright issue of global or national significance. Readings will present the often diametrically opposed views of the various stakeholders, and guest speakers will provide additional richness of viewpoint.

The curriculum will change as new issues emerge, but topics may include:

  1. Large-scale copyright infringement. Why do people engage in copyright infringement? What is the real impact of infringement on rightholders? What are some of the possible regulatory and non-regulatory responses to the challenge posed by digital distribution technologies?
  2. Graduated Response. What is the case for requiring ISPs to act as copyright police over their users? When should they be held liable for their users' infringements? How effective are the schemes in operation to date? What are the Australian proposals for reform and who do they benefit?
  3. Copyright exceptions. How do Australia's exceptions stack up internationally? What should we be trying to achieve with them, and are we succeeding in doing so? Questions might include - should we introduce a remix/mashup/transformative work exception for creators? Should we have a broadcast timeshifting exception, and if so, what should it look like? What's the case for and against the adoption of 'fair use'?
  4. Orphan works. What is the orphan works problem? What causes it? How might the law be reformed to better promote the dissemination of knowledge? What are the international obstacles to reform?
  5. Regulation of online copyright infringement. Examine international agreements such as ACTA and the TPP, and domestic bills like SOPA/PIPA and consider a. the problems they were attempting to fix, b. the reasons why they failed, and c. other potential reforms that might achieve those aims.
  6. Recognising and rewarding authors. How good is copyright at making sure authors get paid? What are the particular challenges faced by authors and how are they evolving? Are there alternative ways of allocating rights and responsibilities that would achieve better outcomes for authors? Does the existing moral rights regime adequately protect creators' non-economic interests in their works?
  7. Anti-circumvention. Why do we have anti-circumvention laws, and what are their implications for the future? Are they appropriately tailored to the challenges posed by digital distribution? Should they permit activities such as the "jailbreaking" of consumer electronics devices?
  8. Protection of factual compilations and computer-generated works. What exactly is the current law in Australia, Europe and the US? What are the options for reform? How should the copyright law protect compilations of facts and computer-generated works, if at all?
  9. Rethinking copyright. If we were able to draft a copyright law from scratch, from the ground up, what might it look like? Which of these reforms would be permitted under our existing and proposed international obligations?


Upon completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Identify, evaluate and synthesise relevant legal and policy issues in relation to global copyright law;
  2. Demonstrate cognitive and creative skills in analyzing complex issues pertaining to domestic and international copyright law;
  3. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of existing policies and likely effectiveness of various proposals against copyright's theoretical rationales;
  4. Communicate and advocate effectively and persuasively, both orally and in writing, on issues relating to copyright policy;
  5. Reflect on and assess their own performance, including by taking into account feedback on earlier work, to improve their capabilities and understanding.


Three short position papers during semester (1000 words each, 3 x 20%): 60%

Seminar presentations of position papers (3 x 10%): 30%

General class participation: 10%

Workload requirements

(Class contact) 36 hours per week, per semester

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


For students who commenced their LLB course prior to 2015:

LAW1101 Introduction to legal reasoning

LAW1104 Research and writing

LAW4341: Copyright & Designs

For students enrolled in the LLB (Honours) course from 2015:

LAW1111 Foundations of law

LAW1112 Public law and statutory interpretation

LAW1113 Torts

LAW1114 Criminal law 1

LAW2101 Contract A

LAW2102 Contract B

LAW2111 Constitutional law

LAW2112 Property A

LAW4341: Copyright & Designs

For other students:

Equivalent introductory units from another university


For LLB (Honours) students only:

LAW3111 Equity

LAW3112 Corporations law


LAW7489: Current Issues in Copyright (LLM)