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The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement's Impact on Australia's Copyright Trade Policy

Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 69, No. 5, pp. 538-558, 2015

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/70

21 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2015 Last revised: 15 Sep 2015

Kimberlee G. Weatherall

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: September 7, 2015

Abstract

The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) required extensive changes to Australian copyright law. This paper assesses the impact of these changes one decade on. It considers, first, whether the costs and/or benefits predicted in 2004 have eventuated, finding clear evidence that AUSFTA has undesirably constrained domestic copyright policy, but no clear evidence either of the feared financial costs to society, or, importantly, the touted benefits to copyright owners. The most significant impact of AUSFTA’s copyright provisions, however, appears to have been their impact on Australia’s copyright trade policy. Pre-AUSFTA, Australia promoted multilateral standards and mostly sought to comply with, but not exceed international IP standards. Post-AUSFTA, Australia has pursued an approach akin to that of the US: endorsing international copyright rules that are significantly stronger, and more detailed. The paper queries whether this shift has been in Australia’s national interest, and raises interesting questions of path-dependence in policymaking and trade negotiations that warrant more, and broader attention in the literature.

Keywords: Copyright, international trade, free trade agreements, trans-pacific partnership agreement, international intellectual property

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Weatherall, Kimberlee G., The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement's Impact on Australia's Copyright Trade Policy (September 7, 2015). Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 69, No. 5, pp. 538-558, 2015; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/70. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2656945

Kimberlee Weatherall (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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