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Intellectual Property & Digital Rights

Video clip synopsis – Intellectual property and digital rights in the post-broadcast era.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 0min 59sec
Tags - digital technology, media, media ownership, technological change, see all tags


Intellectual Property & Digital Rights

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Stephen Mayne was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Stephen Mayne was the founder and editor of independent news service You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Area of study 2. Media industry production

This area of study focuses on Australian, overseas and/or global issues and/or developments in the media industry and their impact on media production stages and specialist roles within these stages.

Media products are the result of collaborative and specialist production stages and roles. The degree of specialisation among production personnel may vary according to the production context.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


We are proud of our ANZAC heritage and our traditions of mateship and comradeship. As a nation, we boast that we champion the underdog and give battlers a fair go. It is something of an irony that Australia’s traditional media – commercial broadcasters and print media – have been controlled for a long time by just a few family dynasties. There is little doubt that free speech gets 'filtered’ or restricted. Voices of dissent potentially hold back, fearing Australia’s libel and defamation laws. In this context, the Internet offers an alternative for people with something to say. Anyone with access to a computer can publish and broadcast on the Net. Libel laws may apply equally to the Web. But in cyberspace, who’s to say what’s true and what’s false?

Intellectual Property & Digital Rights
With the advent of the Internet a conflict has arisen between the desire for a public or open resource and the private 'ownership’ of Web content. On the one hand, people assume that content on the Web is 'open’ and therefore should be available for use and reuse by anyone. This extends even to source software on the Web. On the other hand, copyright owners are demanding that laws be strengthened to protect intellectual property – the ownership of ideas and control over their representation.

These arguments were pivotal in a legal test in the United States in 2002, when the major record labels won a lawsuit against the popular music file-sharing site – Napster – for breaching copyright. This high-profile case focused attention globally on the complex issues of intellectual property and copyright in the digital online environment.

Fiona Martin, formerly an ABC Radio producer and now a university lecturer, has been examining these issues in the Australian context. “Intellectual property and digital rights management are the big issues for debate right now … the transition of individuals from audience members to user-producers is a fundamental shift which impacts on how we determine concepts like author and owner.” [ Fiona Martin, Virtual Nation

Classroom Activities


Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and the video clip itself:

  1. Why does Stephen Mayne say downloading music etc is stealing?
  2. Some people say the Internet should be unregulated and free, others say that it should be considered a commercial medium. What do you think?
  3. In this context, what do you think are the implications for schools and universities when it comes to issues such as authorship or who wrote and claims what as their work?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.