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I am delighted to confirm that I have completed my PhD at Monash University on copyright reversion. Under the excellent supervision of Author’s Interest Project leader Professor Rebecca Giblin (and co-supervisors Associate Professor Genevieve Grant, Professor Mark Davison, and Professor Martin Kretschmer), my thesis examined how reversion rights can help authors explore new opportunities for their works, especially where those works were dormant like out-of-print books.

What I did

Beginning in mid-2018, my research explored:

  1. The reasons for reversion in light of copyright’s commonly-articulated goals: incentivising the creation and ongoing availability of creative works, and rewarding the creative labour of authors;
  2. How reversion manifests in publishing contracts and copyright laws around the world;
  3. How reversion laws are used in the United States; and
  4. Thoughts about how to design reversion laws that help achieve copyright’s incentive and reward goals.

The empirical data in this project valuably contributes to discussions about how we can better support the interests of all parties in the creative ecosystem, from authors to intermediaries like publishers to the public. My hope is for copyright policymakers around the world to take what I’ve found about reversion clauses and use it to consult with stakeholders, so that the immense potential of reversion rights across different creative spheres can be more fully realised – works made more available to people and creators getting more chance to be rewarded and recognised for their work.

I utilised a variety of innovative research methods throughout the project. These included content analysis for manual coding of archived documents and copyright statutes around the world, as well as computational analysis using the Python programming language for large-scale digital records. I could not have done so without the input and tireless assistance of my various co-authors, supervisory team, and academics like Dr Daniel Russo-Batterham at the Melbourne Data Analytics Platform and Associate Professor Sue Finch from the Statistical Consulting Centre (both University of Melbourne). I’m also grateful for fantastic colleagues at the Author’s Interest Project, who made my research such an enjoyable and collegial experience.

My thesis is openly accessible on the Monash University data repository. Feel free to explore my work and get in touch with me if you’d like to chat about it.

What’s next

It’s been great completing my PhD as part of the Author’s Interest Project. I’ll be staying in academia, continuing my research into copyright, with a few other exciting projects also in the pipeline for publication in 2022. You can follow me on Twitter (@joshuayuvaraj) or on Linkedin for updates on my research and career.

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented on and assisted our work over the past three years. I will continue to follow the author rights space with great interest, in the hope that copyright laws around the world better help get authors paid and make works available.

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