Cartography, Empire and Copyright Law in Colonial Australia

Publisher:
Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
law&history, 2018, 5 (1), pp. 24 - 53 (29)
Issue Date:
2018
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Recent scholarship has established the centrality of maps and mapmaking to the imperial project, both as expressions of surveillance, spatial construction and control, as well as in the role maps played in making and supporting claims of property and ownership. Much less attention has been paid to the question of ownership in the map itself. This is important because the person, or entity, who owned the map could determine how the land depicted in the map was portrayed, and how access to that information was disseminated. It also affected how the map was perceived in terms of the authority, or accuracy, of its claims. This article examines several disputes that arose in colonial Australia over the ownership of maps, exploring how different interests arose and came into conflict in relation to their control, dissemination and commercialisation. It suggests that a consideration of these cases reveals the role that copyright law played as a technology of empire.
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