19 Murdoch U. L. Rev. 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/elajrnl19 and id is 1 raw text is: Anne Fitzgerald, Neale Hooper, Cheryl Foong and Brian Fitzgerald
Open Access to Judgments: Creative Commons Licences and the Australian Courts
Anne Fitzgerald, Neale Hooper, Cheryl Foong and Brian Fitzgerald*
Open Access to Judgments: Creative Commons Licences and the
Australian Courts
Internet technologies have fundamentally changed the way we obtain access to legal documents
and information about the law. However, for judgments of courts and tribunals, copyright
management and licensing practices have not kept pace with the digital and online technologies
which are now ubiquitous in the web 2.0 era. Under the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968
and the licensing statements on the Australian courts' websites, judgments may generally be
read online, downloaded, reproduced and printed out for personal, non-commercial use or 'in
house' use by an organisation. However, beyond these permitted acts, the extent to which
judgments can be copied and distributed in digital form online remains unclear. Open content
licences (in particular, the Creative Commons (CC) licences) offer an effective mechanism for
managing copyright in judgments in a manner that supports their wide public dissemination
and reuse while also protecting their integrity and accuracy.
1. Introduction
Internet technologies and the development of digital repositories of legal materials' have
fundamentally changed the way we obtain access to legal documents and information about
the law. Web-accessible and freely searchable databases which aggregate legal materials,
often from numerous jurisdictions, enable users to readily locate and retrieve a
comprehensive range of legal documents. No longer do we need to have access to a law
library or pay hefty subscription fees in order to be able to consult and read the legal
documents that set out the laws governing our activities.
In the interactive, networked web 2.0 era members of the community have an expectation that
they will be able to legally use and reuse documents retrieved through these free, online,
publicly available legal portals in a range of ways. As well as being able to read, copy, print
and download legal documents located through the websites, users of these websites expect to
be permitted to further distribute a digital copy of a legal document they have retrieved
through an online repository. This electronic dissemination may be done by attaching a
digital file to an email message sent to an individual or members of an email mailing list or it
may involve posting a copy of a downloaded judgment on a website (for example, a law blog
which provides comments or updates on specific areas of law) where it can be accessed by
the public.
Anne Fitzgerald arn.fitzgeraldqut.edu.au; Neale Hooper nj.hooperTqgut.edu.au;
Cheryl Foong cherv1.foongpgmail.com; Brian Fitzgerald brian.fitzgeraldPacu.edu.au.
1 Such as the Australasian Legal Information Law Institute web portal (AustLII), established by the Faculties of
Law at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW)
(http://www.austlii.edu.au) and Jade (Judgments and Decisions Enhanced), a current awareness service run by
Bar Net, a specialist communications management company (http://jade.barnet.com.au/Jade.htmil).

Murdoch University Law Review (2012) 19(1)

1

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