Copyright, Digitisation, and Cultural Institutions

13 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2020

See all articles by Andrew T. Kenyon

Andrew T. Kenyon

University of Melbourne Law School

Emily Hudson

King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law


Digitisation and communications technologies offer new ways for cultural institutions to further their missions of preservation, research, education, and public access. But digitisation also offers substantial challenges to museums, galleries, and libraries, including the potential for creation and dissemination of digital works to constitute copyright infringement. Digital technologies also mean copyright law is undergoing its most significant period of change in decades. Digitisation dramatically alters the way copyright works are accessed and distributed. The balance between copyright owners' rights and the public interest in access to copyright material is a key issue in digitisation. Cultural institutions are an excellent site for investigating policy issues regarding digitisation because they are important creators, users, and disseminators of digital copyright material.

This paper analyses Australian copyright law in relation to digitisation and cultural institutions, noting the law's complexity and focusing on provisions that have received little judicial and academic attention to date. It explores difficulties that are likely to face cultural institutions in understanding and complying with the law, and considers options in terms of institutional practices and copyright law reform. The research is part of a joint project of the CMCL and IPRIA, instigated and supported by Museums Australia. It is primarily funded by the Australian Research Council (LP0348534) along with six Australian cultural institutions: Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australian War Memorial, Museum Victoria, National Museum of Australia, State Library of Victoria.

Keywords: digitisation, copyright, cultural institutions, Australia, museum, art gallery, preservation, library, public interest, Museums Australia, Art Gallery of NSW, National Museum of Australia, State Library of Victoria, Australian War Memorial, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Museum Victoria

JEL Classification: K11, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Kenyon, Andrew T. and Hudson, Emily, Copyright, Digitisation, and Cultural Institutions. Available at SSRN:

Andrew T. Kenyon (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
61 3 8344 9972 (Phone)
61 3 9348 0973 (Fax)


Emily Hudson

King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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