The essay by Steve Collins launches its discussion of copyright from an analysis of a recent high-profile case heard by the Federal Court of Australia. In February 2010, this court found that the Australian pop group Men at Work infringed copyright by including, in their hit song "Down Under", a brief passage from the 1932 song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree". This decision, like several other recent court decisions relating to copyright, has generated controversy and has had many critics. Collins places this court ruling in a broader context of debates concerning intellectual property and the purpose of copyright. He argues that upholding the strict interpretation of copyright law may weaken the intended function of the law, which is to foster and protect creativity. Instead, creativity becomes restricted if copyright enforcement is pursued as a means of financial exploitation. These debates are particularly important in the age of digital manipulation and internet transmission. Collins sets this particular case in the greater framework of creative expression and its functioning in a free society.
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