Is copyright law fit for purpose in the Internet era?

Authors: Robert Ashcroft (PRS for Music) and George Barker (Australian National University)


This paper argues that the application of exceptions to copyright that benefit intermediary business models – combined with the limitation on the liabilities of intermediaries made possible in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA] in the USA and the eCommerce Directive in Europe has led to the situation where rights holders are prevented from giving full consent for use of their works as required under copyright law and that this is damaging to the economy as a whole. The latter safe harbour regime was introduced before broadband[1], file sharing[2], social media[3] and apps[4], and at a time when knowledge of what was passing through the network was limited at best. The unintended consequences has been the distortion of markets and investment, the creation of barriers to entry and the limitation of overall economic .

[1]  Point Topic, 2013.
[2]  While File Transfer Protocol was established in 1985 and the World Wide Web proposed in 1990, peer-to-peer file sharing became popular in 1999 with introduction of Napster.
[3]  In 2002 social media really hit its stride with the launch of Friendster. Goble, G. et al, 2012.
[4] Following the launch of the iPhone in January 2007, Apple launched the App Store in July 2008.  60 million apps were sold within the first month.

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