The Novel as Social Satire: 60 Years Later, The Wind Done Gone and the Limitations of Fair Use


  • Dilan Thampapillai Deakin University



The absence of the doctrine of fair use from Australian copyright law has been a bone of contention in Australia after the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA). As the Australian government reformed the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) in the aftermath of the FTA it eschewed the option of adopting fair use. Instead, Australia chose to incorporate a version of fair use into its existing fair dealing framework. Accordingly, the Copyright Amendment Act 2006 (Cth) inserted ss 41A and 103AA into the Copyright Act. These provisions provide that a fair dealing with a copyright protected work does not constitute an infringement if it is done for the purposes of parody or satire. These provisions codify part of the ratio of the United States Supreme Court in the seminal case of Campbell v Acuff Rose Music. However, the parameters of these new provisions are unexplored and the sparse nature of fair dealing jurisprudence means that the true meaning of the provisions is unclear. Moreover, two cases from the United States, SunTrust Bank v Houghton Mifflin and Salinger v Colting, underline just how important it is to have legal rules that protect literary ‘re-writes’. Both cases involved authors using an original novel to ‘write back’ to the original author and the broader culture. ‘Writing back’ or the ‘re-write’ has a firm basis in literature. It adds something invaluable to our culture. The key question is whether our legal landscape can allow it to flourish. This paper examines the interaction between fair use and literary re-writes.