Presentation on music copyright wins prize for UNE student

Published 20 October 2011

potter_lindgren_smlA University of New England law student has won the inaugural prize in a prestigious national competition focused on copyright law.

Wellett Potter, who is studying for a Master of Laws at UNE, won the $4000 Kevin Lindgren Prize with an innovative presentation on the copyright implications of “music borrowing” in Australian law that included a live performance on the recorder by Ms Potter. The winner and the university will each receive $2000.

Music borrowing is the practice of an artist taking a small amount of music from another’s composition and using it in his or her own work.

In her presentation, Ms Potter cited a recent Federal Court case, Larrikin Music v EMI (2010), where Australian pop group “Men at Work” was found to have infringed Larrikin’s copyright by reproducing part of the “Kookaburra” song in the flute riff of the group’s 1981 single “Down Under”.

Ms Potter also made a point of comparing the status of music borrowing in Australian law with its status in the copyright law of Germany. “Music borrowing is allowed by law in parts of Europe,” Ms Potter said. “If the Larrikin case had been tried in Germany, the music borrowing involved would likely have been allowed.”

The Kevin Lindgren Prize was awarded at the biennial Copyright Law and Practice Symposium to the best student presentation on copyright from three finalists. The prize was established by the Copyright Society of Australia and named after Dr Kevin Lindgren, a former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia and former president of the Copyright Tribunal.

Dr Lindgren was among the judges when Ms Potter gave her presentation at the offices of Gilbert + Tobin, a prestigious Sydney law firm, who hosted the event.

Ms Potter said that although it “wasn’t easy” giving a presentation in front of some of the country’s leading copyright experts, she was on familiar ground with the topic, having completed her honours thesis on music borrowing at UNE last year. “This made my presentation an appropriate topic for the competition,” she said.

“I really enjoy intellectual property law,” Ms Potter said, describing it as “a fascinating and dynamic part of the law”.

Ms Potter said she had received “outstanding support” from UNE’s School of Law, singling out Prof Jürgen Bröhmer and Heather Ann Forrest for their encouragement and support of her competition bid.