Digital access: the impact of copyright on digitisation practices in Australian museums, galleries, libraries and archives

Archives Copyright Museums Libraries Digital communications Access to information digital access Australia

Empirical research into the digitisation of collections in Australian museums, galleries, libraries and archives suggests that copyright law affects what material is digitised and how it is made accessible. This article analyses digitisation within cultural institutions in light of the Digital Agenda reforms of 2000 and the Copyright Amendment Act 2006 (Cth). Copyright law can have a significant impact on digitisation practices, particularly with regard to digitising audiovisual material and orphan works, and in relation to digital access: that is, the public availability of digital content. Research suggests that, for the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Copyright Act) to work on its own terms, some small-scale reforms are required. However, the research also underscores larger questions about the sustainability of existing copyright law and practice. Provisions in the Copyright Amendment Act 2006 (Cth) may improve the situation, depending on the operation of the new flexible dealing exception for the sector in s 200AB. This suggests the need for continued attention and debate on copyright exceptions and the possibility of new collective licensing models.

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