[Linux-aus] Australian copyright law on computer programs and FLOSS licensing?

Javier Candeira javier at candeira.com
Sun Jul 31 20:55:32 EST 2011

My name is Javier Candeira, and I am working as a lecturer at Monash
University in Melbourne. This semester I am teaching Introduction to
Computing Technology, with one lecture devoted to legal aspects of
software development and usage.

Could you please recommend me some reference books or white papers
that look at copyright issues in software, and particularly at Free
and Open Source licensing **from an Australian perspective**?

In the past I have worked as a software developer and taught about
FLOSS for Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain, so I don't need
general information about Free Software in practice. I am also aware that
Australia is a signatory of the Berne Convention, and have access to
the 1968 Australian Copyright Act as amended [1], so I know that
roughly 80-90% of the material I teach in Spain is also valid here.

However, I am not a lawyer, and I have never received legal advice
regarding software development or open source licensing in Australia,
so I am looking for documentation that explains the Australian legal
particulars around programming and licensing.

As examples of the type of detail I am looking for:

- in the absence of particular language in a contract, who holds the
copyright to the software developed by an outside contractor, the
client or the contractor?
- in the absence of particular language in a contract, who holds the
copyright to the software developed by a developer on payroll with
full time employment?
- copyright exceptions for computer software: are users allowed to
backup software they have licenses to? (for instance, in Spain backing
software up is a limit on the rightholder's copyright).
- has there been any Australian case where the matter in dispute was
the right to distribute software originally licensed under a FLOSS

These are just examples, not outright questions. Of course any answer
will be appreciated, but with this email I am just asking for
recommendations on good bibliography and references fit for
consumption by software developers, as opposed to copyright books for

Thanks for your attention and your help,

Javier Candeira

[1] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/

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