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19 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/infctel19 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communications Technology Law                               Routledge
Vol. 19, No. 1, March 2010, 1-26                                       R  Taylor&Francis Group
Copyright liability for users and distributors of content sharing and
communication technologies: a crossroads between past and present
Eugenia Georgiades*
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and Queensland University of Technology,
Brisbane, Australia
In the last decade or so, society has seen the beginnings of a digital revolution where
innovation and technological advancement met and changed the way in which
people use digital technology. This has only increased the ambit of confusion
between the law and technology innovation. This is evident with the creation and
distribution of content sharing and communication technologies such as peer-to-
peer, network distributive systems, file sharing software and other technology
enabling software where users are able to share and access information. The
recurring issues that appear throughout case precedent have reinforced the
uncertainty and confusion over the interpretation of authorisation. This paper
will explore the concept of authorisation and evaluate the courts' interpretation of
what constitutes an authorisation of infringement with respect to technology
innovators of communication technologies. This will be achieved through a
discussion of the cases that explored 'authorisation' through the genealogy of
authorisation. It is important to discuss the history of authorisation first, and then
evaluate how the courts have interpreted 'authorisation'. This paper will
demonstrate how the interpretation of authorisation has created ambiguity and
uncertainty for technology innovators and developers.
Keywords: authorisation; intermediaries; intermediary liability; copyright
1. Introduction
The concept of authorisation in copyright law has an extensive history as
demonstrated in established case law. In Australia, there are established cases on
'authorisation' which pre-date the 1920s. Most of these cases relate to the
performance of copyrighted works and are specific to theatrical performances. The
doctrine of authorisation was evaluated on a case-by-case basis using precedent as a
guide. The notion of authorisation was developed through the courts' interpretation
as to whether infringement occurred through authorisation. There has been little
clarification as to what 'authorisation' of infringement means by the courts. The
courts have certainly created confusion as to what constitutes authorisation through
the development of the doctrine of authorisation, which was not clarified as society
evolved and technology advanced. Interpretation has played an important role
within the doctrine of authorisation and it has been the basis for the creation of
uncertainty within technological innovation.
*Email: jenny.georgiades@qut.edu.au
ISSN 1360-0834 print/ISSN 1469-8404 online
@ 2010 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13600831003593154

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