Ruth Towse – research visit to Australia

CIPPM co-director professor Ruth Towse has delivered a series of keynotes in Australia, in the course of a two-weeks research trip where she visited Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Here is her report of the visits.

In addition to attending the Association for Cultural Economics International (ACEI) conference which was held at RMIT, Melbourne, I linked up with several copyright experts in law schools and gave a series of talks. As Australia is in the throes of deciding whether to move from the existing fair dealing regime to one of fair use, there was quite a lot of interest in the economics of copyright.

My paper at the ACEI conference was on ‘Regulating copyright contracts: economics and fair remuneration’ based on my article with the same title, soon to be published in the Columbia Journal of Law and Society, which is my response to recent suggestions in the EC for copyright reversion. It was notable (and depressing) to see that copyright still barely features in the minds of cultural economists – just one session in the 3 days.

Following the conference, Distinguished Professor David Throsby, author (inter alia) of a long-running series of surveys of artists’ labour markets in Australia that represent the ‘gold standard’ of this type of research, and his colleague Jordi MacKenzie organised a Workshop on Creativity, Labour Markets and Innovation in the Arts and Cultural Industries at the Department of Economics  and Business at Macquarie University in Sydney. My contribution was participation in a panel discussion of a paper by the distinguished French professor Pierre-Michel Menger and a presentation ‘What can copyright law do to overcome inequity in artists’ labour markets?’.

I then went to Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, where Kylie Pappadarlo and Nic Suzor in the Law School had organised a Symposium on Economics of Creativity, at which I gave the Keynote talk: ‘Digitisation, copyright and creators: a view from cultural economics’.

Back to Melbourne, I was invited by Professor Megan Richardson at the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia in the Law School at University of Melbourne and Professor Beth Webster of Swinburne University to give a public lecture at the Melbourne Business School ‘Copyright, Contracts and Cultural Economics’.

Following that, I presented a paper ‘Empirical Studies of Copyright’ at a staff seminar at the economics department of Swinburne University.

Besides the talks, I took part in the ECR Workshop at University of Melbourne with people from IP Australia to discuss the proposals for reforming the design right (Prof Richardson has been working on design rights and the fashion industry). I also had a working lunch with PhD students at University of Melbourne to discuss their research and was interviewed for two radio broadcasts, one in Melbourne and the other in Sydney – a busy time! All the papers/presentations are available: contact me on