Archives and Copyright: Reconciling the Traditional with the Digital

Archives constitute the memory of nations and societies, shape their identity, and are a cornerstone of the information society.  (International Council on Archives)

Archives are poorly served by copyright law. Broadly, the objectives of an archive are to preserve, to provide access and to maintain records.  The potential for digital technologies and the Internet to contribute to archival objectives is, however, not adequately acknowledged in the Copyright Act 1994. For example, the permitted exceptions for archives are drafted from a traditional, analogue perspective, albeit with a few recent ‘tweaks’ to acknowledge digital technologies. Furthermore, they are confined to ‘not-for profit’ archives. Other important issues for archives include uncertainty around the use of orphan works and photographs, and how to provide access to archival materials for persons who cannot visit the physical archive. The seminar will explain the flaws of the permitted exceptions, the problems for specific categories of archival materials and will recommend some possible solutions.


Associate Professor Susan Corbett     Susan teaches intellectual property, e-commerce, and contract law to business students at Victoria University. Her research is focused on digital copyright law, electronic commerce and the information economy. Current projects include an analysis of cultural property laws relevant to digital archiving.

Dr Jhonny Antonio Pabón Cadavid     Jhonny was recently awarded his PhD for his dissertation on digital heritage law and currently researches on copyright law, knowledge management, legal history, cultural rights and heritage law. He also holds an MSc in knowledge management, from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.