Document Type



This paper was prepared in November 2003 for the course International Intellectual Property with Professor Madhavi Sunder at Cornell Law School. The author would like to thank Professor Sunder, Professor Martin, Dean Charles Cramton and Christian Hufnagel for their comments. Any errors or omissions are entirely the author's.


The digital era has posed a unique challenge to copyright law. The emergence of the information technology revolution and the internet has increased the ability and the willingness of copyright users to copy and distribute protected material. In response to this phenomenon copyright owners have pushed for stronger laws to protect their content from infringement. Their success has prompted a strong counter reaction from copyright users and consumer groups.

This paper seeks to examine how changes to Australian and US copyright law have resulted in an imbalance between owners and users and whether the traditional safeguards of fair dealing and fair use have had any utility in the digital era.

As common law nations, the copyright laws of both jurisdictions are derived from the Statute of Anne 1710 of the United Kingdom which sought to balance the interests of users and owners so as to maximise the social and economic benefits from the creation and use of intellectual materials. Both the United States and Australia have long been committed to balancing the interests of stakeholders in copyright. This balance looks to be increasingly imperilled in the digital era

This paper was prepared in November 2003 as part of the course requirements for International Intellectual Property with Professor Madhavi Sunder. Subsequent to the completion of the paper Australia and the United States concluded the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) which required some changes to the Australian Copyright Act 1968. Where relevant those changes have been noted.

Date of Authorship for this Version

November 2003


Copyright, Australia, Digital rights management