Meese: "Resistance or Negotiation: An Australian Perspective on Copyright Law''s Cultural Agenda"

 


 

Topic:

 

Using the development of the Australian and US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) as his historical backdrop, Meese argues that in the current multimedia climate with its "produser" (producer and user) of content, copyright law relies upon an "outdated concept of authorship" and actually re-emphasizes a "discourse of resistance" (p. 168). Like others, he maintains that the present incarnations of copyright law are inadequate and misguided, operating from an outdated view of authorship and consumer.

 

Research Questions:

 

Meese aims to determine how the rise of the produser and perceptions of copyright, ownership, distribution of and access to content "play out in a geo-political environment" (p. 168).

 

Methodology:

 

Meese relies upon critical theory (e.g., Barthes and Foucault) to develop his framework, culminating in a case study analysis of AUSFTA.

 

Results:

 

Responding to US pressures during AUSFTA negotiations, the Australian government essentially re-crafted its copyright law so that it closely paralleled that of the US. This adaptation brought about widespread, even hostile, resistance in Australia, as the laws criminalized what had been standard consumer practices (such as individuals taping television shows for later viewing).

 

Author''s Interpretation of Results:

 

Meese frames the events in terms of a US attempt at cultural imperialism. He questions the wisdom of maintaining the "Lockean notion of the author" (p. 176), arguing that  "if the public are no longer following copyright law to the letter, copyright law will have to change or become irrelevant" (p. 176).  Ultimately, he maintains that the issues that have arisen highlight that current copyright law simply does not address the needs and expectations of the digital era.

 

Suggestions for Further Research:

 

Meese does not advocate research as much as action, calling for  a more "sophisticated" and less "reactionary" approach to policy development (p. 177).

 

Critique:

 

This article offers some insight into ways that laws concerning intellectual property grow out of cultural views. Meese, at times, seems to be attacking the Australian government for ''crumbling'' to the US''s demands. One of his major claims, that the law is inadequate because it goes against common practice, is, for me, problematic as he deems an act acceptable because it is widespread. Meese might be better served to explore the reasons and assumptions behind the practice, which would also better highlight the shifting roles of the "produser."