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Copyright law has changed significantly since the Statute of Anne internal link.
The sources of copyright law and how copyright happens in practice today are tiered. The modern copyright system plays out at four levels.
Globally through multilateral international agreements and treaties – such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) administered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – and preferential agreements, such as the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TTP-11).
These international agreements are interpreted by domestic lawmakers, and become part of a country’s law. For example, here in Australia we have the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). By extension, courts interpret the law through copyright matters brought before them. The Copyright Act, as well as associated copyright regulations, copyright policy and international copyright issues are managed by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
Over time, the impact of legislation filters down to the policies and procedures of companies and organisations as they manage compliance and strive to achieve best practice. Hopefully that’s why you reading our website! Some good examples of industry best practices can be found in the policy statements published by the National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) and the guidelines provided on the Smartcopying website.
Finally, copyright plays out in community and behavioural norms. Unfortunately, community norms don’t always align with copyright law. People will often think they have the right to use materials when they don’t, and common and accidental infringements happen everyday.
Your job as librarians and information professionals is to know the difference between the law and norms. The work we do here at the ALCC, including the information provided on this website, is designed to help you effectively navigate that difference.