Captain Cook's diaries free thanks to Copyright Bill

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

FAIR is delighted that supporters' efforts to lobby for copyright reform have paid dividends. 

The Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill was today tabled in Parliament and it includes a number of important and overdue amendments that will dramatically free up how Australians can access and use copyright material.

In July to August 2015, we ran a campaign called Cooking for Copyright which raised awareness of of our muddled copyright law and lobbied for immediate reform.

Back then, we published 35 handwritten recipes on the website – effectively contravening the current copyright law – and we asked FAIR supporters, Members of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australians to cook one of these recipes – or choose an old favourite – and to post a photo to facebook or tweet with the #cookingforcopyright hashtag. Within two weeks of the launch, the campaign was trending #1 on Twitter with more than 1 500 tweets and  9,973,809 Twitter impressions.
FAIR had incredible support from National and State Libraries Australasia, archive, museum and historical society colleagues, who provided dozens of recipes, ranging from perfect morning tea fodder through to weird medicinal products. 
Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive Officer of ALIA, said: "With everyone's help, this campaign helped convince our politicians that change was needed to copyright law to unlock millions of items, putting them in the public domain."
The Bill ends antiquated provisions in the Australian Copyright Act that provide perpetual copyright for unpublished materials, no matter how old they are.
As a result millions of historical manuscripts - from celebrity letters and diaries held by the National, State and Territory libraries and archives, to the thousands of theses at our universities - will be simultaneously freed into the public domain on 1 January 2019.
This bounty will be a major boon for Australian artists, researchers, teachers, innovators and historians, as they gain access to materials that were previously locked unuseable behind overly strict copyright law.
FAIR and ALIA also support the media release today issued by the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee.