Intelligence Squared Debates: Copyright is Dead, Long Live the Pirates
In this debate, chaired by Wheeler Centre director Michael Williams, our speakers consider the obstacles and opportunities of copyright today – and tomorrow. With panellists Angela Daly, Simon Groth, Suelette Dreyfus, Michael Fraser, Lori Flekser and Elmo Keep.
The digital revolution is counter-intuitive to copyright. Technological change is moving too fast for adequate laws to be implemented – and for affected industries to keep pace.
The bottom is dropping out of the Hollywood box office, while television stations are being hammered by free-falling ratings for blockbuster shows (think: Homeland). We’re watching in droves, but many of us are not paying for what we watch, and we’re too impatient to wait for traditional delivery systems.
Meanwhile, in book publishing, the e-revolution is seeing the boom of digital publishing – and pirated books. Will it go the way of the music industry?
With such open access to information these days, how do we know where one person’s work ends and another begins? Is the very idea of intellectual property becoming a nonsense – or is it too important to give up on, for the continuing functioning of the arts and the sciences? And – the million-dollar question – how can we ensure creativity continues to pay?
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.
Simon Groth’s stories can go anywhere, from tangled relationships and virtual writers to rock music and sleep disorders. His first two novels were shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and his short fiction has been published in Australia and the US.
Professor Michael Fraser was a founder of Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) and CEO for 21 years, as well as a founding director of Australian, foreign and international copyright management organisations. He is chairman of the Australian Copyright Council.
Lori Flekser has worked in the Australian film and television industry since 1982. She is the General Manager of the Motion Picture Distributors Association, the Executive Director of the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation, and the Co-Chair of the Australian International Documentary Conference.
Suelette Dreyfus is a Research Fellow in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne. She is the Principal Researcher on the World Online Whistleblowing Survey, and part of an international team looking at the impact of technology on whistleblowing about wrongdoing.
Elmo Keep is a writer and broadcaster working across print, television and online.
Angela Daly has ten years of experience in academia, activism and policy-making concerning the law, ethics and communications technologies. She is currently a research fellow in the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology, a member of Electronic Frontiers Australia’s board, and is finalising her PhD at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy.