The panel in which this paper was given was presented as a ‘debate between those who think copyright needs radical reform and those who believe its traditional foundations are sound.’ To some extent, this framing is based on a false premise. It seems to suggest that copyright is somehow ‘timeless, natural and inevitable’, and based on consistent principle. This is a myth; copyright historically has been characterised by uncertainty and constant change. The present 1968 Copyright Act, a major re-write of the previous Copyright Act 1912, has been amended at least nineteen times. Going back further in time, prior to the 20th Century the form of the law was highly subject-specific, found across numerous pieces of legislation and, frankly, unrecognisable as the thing we now call copyright.
Weatherall, Kimberlee G, So Call Me a Copyright Radical (July 5, 2012). Copyright Reporter, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 123-133, 2011; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/44.