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musings on Australian copyright law and the GPL

From GPLv3 Wiki

These are some general notes on peculiarities of Australian copyright law that might somehow be relevant to the GPL. Others should feel free to add more or comment!

  • There is no such thing as a "derivative work" in Australian copyright law. The creation of a modified version which contains "the whole or a substantial part" of the original does however excercise the exclusive right of reproduction. There is also an "adaptation" right which is narrower than the exclusive right of derivation in the US.
  • Section 47D of the Australian Copyright Act contains some very interesting though somewhat ambiguous exceptions to copyright that would (for example) allow free software developers to include slabs of proprietary code in their programs if doing so was necessary to achieve interoperability. The permission would not run the other way (it's not a GPL loophole). No doubt these provisions would be widely used if they were available to more of the free software community. Maybe the GPL should allow developers to take advantage of this if it is necessary for reading some file format or protocol? Perhaps this could be an optional clause? My initial feeling is that this is uncessary (a GPLed project could probably get the permissions they required if they had decided to use 47D).
  • In Australia, copyright "works" do not include films or sound recordings (these are "subject matter other than works"). This 'probably' doesn't matter for the GPL.