Copyright in the Internet Age – Unlikely Weapon in International Trade Diplomacy

Last Meeting and Break-up of the 17 Group for 2015 will be held amid more than usual festive rejoicings on Wednesday the 2nd of December at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End. The meeting will be addressed by Professor Tom Cochrane on the topic “Copyright in the Internet Age – Unlikely Weapon in International Trade Diplomacy”.

“Copyright” is a subject that, a generation ago, seemed both arcane and archaic. But it has moved from this status to being something that affects everyone, and is often hotly debated in political and trade negotiation settings. This last quarter century has seen a technology based revolutionary transformation at a global scale, which is at least as profound as the industrial revolution. One of the outcomes has been to throw up new seemingly intractable dilemmas in law- making affecting areas such as privacy, security and copyright and intellectual property. Since negotiations in Geneva in 1996, the latter issues (copyright and IP) have taken on an international dimension with a new vigour, especially when coupled with bilateral trade deals, particularly Free Trade Agreements pursued by the U.S. and more recently the (multilateral) Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks, characterised by extraordinary secrecy.

This talk is about how and why these things have occurred, and why they present countries such as Australia with new limitations in our own choices in law making.

It is told from the perspective of the pursuit of access to knowledge and information as a broad set of rights, and is particularly concerned with the undue influence of narrowly based but powerful media and content controlling interests and their distorting effect on public policy. This distortion includes contradictions in the way public interest and private benefit are represented in the debates.

Short biographical notes:

Tom Cochrane is currently Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. He was formerly, (until retiring from the position in December 2013), Deputy Vice-Chancellor at QUT. This role required engagement with a range of technology and scholarly information access issues, and the way that international copyright developments have affected the everyday lives of those in universities and schools, in fact, everyone. He developed and led policy and implementation of Open Access practices at QUT from 2003 onwards. He was co-leader of the Creative Commons project for which QUT was the institutional partner leading its introduction to Australia. This project, together with other open access initiatives locally based at QUT, signals a long standing commitment to access to knowledge, and to research output worldwide. From 2000-2002 he was a member of the (federal) Copyright Law Review Committee.

Leon, pretending to be urgently on his way to Turkey when we tried to get him to come to this, our last meeting for the year.

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