Channelling my inner Bean?

9780195576801The final volume of the Centenary History of Australia and the Great War series is about to appear, bringing with it sensations of both satisfaction and relief. It’s always a relief when a lengthy project comes to fruition successfully and this one began in the planning and funding stages in 2007. It is immensely satisfying to have had a hand in a significant historical project and to have enabled a talented team of historians to give expression to their scholarship for a wider audience.

I was centrally involved in an earlier centennial project, also published through Oxford University Press, at the time of the centenary anniversary of Federation in 2001. That series, The Australian Centenary History of Defence, was a larger and more complex project than the more recent one but both share features in common. The first is the lead time involved. Multi-volume, multiple-author projects take time to put together and time to produce their outcomes: books. The pool of available and suitably-qualified talent is not large and most working historians already have a full slate of immediate and long-term commitments. Funding the research involves reasonably-sized outlays and must be secured from somewhere, while at the same time it is recognised that the project cannot meet salary bills for the authors if the budget is to remain within feasible limits. The necessary corollary of this is that work on the books will have to be part-time in most cases. All of these factors mandate lengthy lead times from inception to completion.

This pretty much describes the shape of the project that unfolded. Funding was secured from the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy, on the basis that the series would constitute the Army’s major enduring activity during the Great War centenary. The timing here was fortuitous since it led to signed contracts before the Global Financial Crisis broke – which would most likely have entirely changed the outcome. Having agreed to support the project, successive Chiefs of Army were unwavering in their financial commitment in the face of some acute budget pressures over the next several years.

A subsequent Chief of Army used to joke that he was funding the project in order that I could ‘channel my inner [CEW] Bean’, a reference to the Australian official historian of the Great War whose 12 massive volumes (15 if you include the medical histories) are a memorial both to their author and the events with which he dealt. Our own series weighs in at a modest five volumes for a total of approximately 600,000 words, so in no meaningful sense were we attempting to imitate or otherwise compete directly with Bean’s history.

Not only have reading tastes (and attention spans) changed over the last century, but historians now have a wider range of contemporary sources available to them and can ask new or at least different questions of the evidence. As the work which underpins volume 5 in the series demonstrates, we are able to manipulate large data sets to gain definitive answers to questions about, for example, the composition and make-up of the AIF, enlistment rates across the war, or a host of things that previous generations of scholars simply could not. It’s not that we have set out to tell a different story (the Germans still lose the war) so much as tried to tell the story differently.

To this end we structured the series semi-thematically, driven by my belief that the interconnectedness of various aspects of the war and Australia’s experience of it are often lost sight of within traditional approaches that treat Gallipoli as separate from the defence of Egypt or the conquest of Sinai or which sees the Western Front in isolation from the rest of the war effort against the German empire. Equally, Australia’s military efforts are best understood in the context of the much greater Imperial and Allied projects of which they were a part. A quite different picture of the development and experiences of the Australian Flying Corps is imparted when it is seen as contributing to and benefitting from developments in British military aviation across the course of the war rather than as the story of four discrete squadrons operating in France and the Middle East. Finally, the politics of Australia’s war, its impact on the domestic economy, and the social cleavages and tensions that arose as the war dragged on did not exist in a vacuum, many of these issues had counterparts in Britain and the other Dominions, and such comparisons deliver a more nuanced understanding of their Australian manifestations.

The Great War constitutes one of the seminal formative events in the making and shaping of modern Australia. The men and women who fought in it are now gone and its events are confined to History with a capital ‘H’. A century on, our perspectives and understanding are and should be different from theirs. Our need to make sense of it all is no less great and we hope that the series contributes in a significant way to that process.

(Dr) Jeffrey Grey
Professor of History, UNSW Canberra
Series Editor, The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War

To learn more about the series, please visit our World War 1 Centenary page

Horace Hart: the fascinating creator of an Oxford classic

Shortly after I became Editorial Assistant at OUP, my manager lent me a book called New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors. It’s a useful and interesting book for an editor, as it tells you:

  • to avoid the greengrocer’s apostrophe (e.g. lettuces instead of lettuce’s)
  • the correct way to indicate stammering, paused or intermittent speech (“P-p-perhaps not,” she whispered.)
  • how to capitalise locations in outer space, such as the Milky Way or the moon
  • all 28 letters in the Welsh alphabet.

The original author of this book was Horace Hart (1840–1916), who was Printer to the University of Oxford and Controller of the University Press. According to OUP archivist Martin Maw, being the Printer in the late 1800s meant spending the working day (6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.) in the Oxford Printing House, a ‘warren, [where] one might meet attendants in the hot drying room sporting large paper hats against the sweat, blacksmiths, carpenters, or the chief wetter in the Wetting Cellar, moistening paper from the Wolvercote Mill in a shallow indoor bath’.[1] In our office, we don’t even have paper hats, let alone a Wetting Cellar.

When appointed to his role, Hart overhauled OUP’s dated practices: he introduced new types of printing (monotype and collotype), he travelled to Germany to purchase new fonts, and he expanded OUP’s ink factory. He also issued Rules for Compositors and Readers to ensure consistent first-proof correction – this would later become known as Hart’s Rules. The Preface of my updated version notes that the book ‘was originally a slim twenty-four-page booklet intended only for staff at the printing house … but Hart decided to publish it for the public after finding copies of it for sale’. [2]

Hart had a notorious temper – he was described by a later Printer as ‘a tyrant’ and once fell into a rage on seeing his compositors singing carols at work. The constant stress of the business is one explanation. According to Maw, Hart was required to balance the needs of ‘the Publisher, the Secretary, and the authorities in his parent university, his employees and their union, his suppliers, and the customers of his trade’.[3] These demands were too much: a series of nervous breakdowns led to Hart’s divorce and his retirement from the Press in 1915. The following year, he neatly folded his gloves on the bank of a lake and drowned himself.[4]

Despite his flaws, Hart’s influence on OUP was enormous and continues to this day. Hart’s book, for example, is the reason we spell Shakespeare the way we do. So next time you’re looking up whether to hyphenate a compass point (south-south-east), remember the man behind Hart’s Rules.


New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide

Alex Chambers is an Editor in Higher Education. He is a keen supporter of the Melbourne Demons, well-placed commas and the communal sweet jar.

[1] Maw, M. ‘The Printer and the Printing House’, in Louis, R. (ed) (2013), The History of Oxford University Press: Volume III: 1896–1970, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 222
[2] Ritter, R.M. (2005), New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors, Oxford: Oxford University Press, vii
[3] Maw, 219
[4] Winchester, S. (2003),The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 121

Successful copyright regime balances the requirements of creators and users in the clearest possible way

  1. Oxford University Press (“OUP”) is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research scholarship and education by publishing worldwide. OUP supports the wide dissemination of excellent academic and educational materials in the belief that it will enable knowledge to build on knowledge.
  1. We are responding to the recommendations set out in the Productivity Commission’s draft report on Intellectual Property Arrangements (“Report”). Specifically, the Commission has recommended that (i) a broad fair use exception be adopted by Australia; (ii) the term of copyright be reduced to between 15–25 years; (iii) an open access policy for publicly-funded research be introduced, setting a 12-month embargo period; and (iv) parallel import restrictions for books be repealed. We object to these recommendations in the strongest terms, on the basis that they will be bad for Australian authors, bad for Australian students, bad for Australian researchers, and bad for the thousands of Australians who rely on the publishing industry for employment. The community as a whole will not be better off.
  1. As an academic and educational publisher, we fully endorse the Australian Publishers Association’s response to these recommendations. In addition, we shall respond to each of those four recommendations in turn; not just on behalf of Oxford University Press Australia, but also on behalf of OUP as a whole, which publishes a wide range of academic books and journals relied on by Australian researchers.


  1. The purpose of copyright is to incentivize the creation, investment in, and dissemination of original literary, artistic and other such works. This goal is accomplished by providing in law that a creator has, for a limited time, the exclusive right to exploit, and to grant to others the right to exploit, his or her work. With respect to literary works, publishers require this protection in order to sustain ongoing investment in high-quality content. The advancement of the arts and sciences requires appropriate access to the latest knowledge. We share the Report’s public interest concern regarding ensuring appropriate access to educational materials, but we disagree profoundly with the Report’s recommendations on how to achieve such access. There is a crucial balance to be struck between rewarding creators and otherwise providing incentives for the ongoing investment in the development and dissemination of creative and scientific works, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, permitting some free use of otherwise protected works. To ensure this balance, it is important to have sufficient clarity in the law such that creators, those who play a role in dissemination, and users (who of course may themselves be creators) can fulfil their respective roles in a sustainable ecosystem.
  1. Copyright and ideas: In respect of that balance, we find it unfortunate that the Commission would, in the current day and age, link copyright protection with censorship[1]. Whilst it may have originated as a way of maintaining authenticity and accuracy, its purpose now is to protect economic rights – by providing a reliable framework for creation, reward, and use. More specifically within the context of these recommendations, it is important to appreciate that copyright does not generally prevent the free reuse of facts or information within the copyright work. It protects the expression – not the idea. So the argument that copyright law prevents researchers from using knowledge to build on knowledge is a wholly insubstantial one.
  1. The Commission asserts that those who stand to lose most from IP protection are dispersed and less aware of what is at stake whereas those that seek to gain most are concentrated and actively seek to shape policy for their benefit. This is greatly simplifies a complex ecosystem. Authors are widely dispersed, but they rely on copyright protection to earn a living. They in turn rely on intermediaries such as publishers to make significant investments in editorial, sales, and marketing to ensure their works reach a wide audience. Without copyright protection, the ecosystem will grind to a halt.


  1. Risks of introducing a general exception for fair use for educational purposes. If a wide-ranging “fair use” exception to copyright protection is introduced into Australian law, the quality and relevance of materials available in Australian primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions will be put at risk. There will be little incentive for Australian educational writers to spend time and effort creating new works, given that they will no longer be rewarded for the use of their materials in the same way, and little incentive for local publishers to invest in specifically Australian curriculum-based texts. The result will be that Australian students will find themselves having to rely on generic resources, which are (1) likely not specifically linked to the local curriculum and (2) almost certainly not Australian.
  1. The example of Canada: The Report does not address the real issue in Canada, which is the decline of local educational publishing and the connection between the decline and the changes in the copyright law. The Report contests that the reason for OUP’s closure of its Schools publishing in Canada was the change to copyright legislation. We are best placed to assure you that the main contributing factor to the decision to close our domestic Schools publishing program in Canada was the change in practice around fair use by educational institutions, as encouraged by the interpretation of a change in Canadian legislation. We can also say that, as the government has changed, new ministers have come to realize the threat this legislative change poses to Canadian cultural heritage.
  1. Further, the issue is far broader than OUP. The key question is: how has the Canadian court’s interpretation of the law and the legal drafting regarding fair use impacted educational publishing in Canada? We therefore refer the report to some non-OUP sources. We suggest Australia looks very carefully at the precedent in Canada. We provide links here to a selection of such sources:
  1. A lack of clarity is an impediment to bringing in wide ranging “fair use” provisions. The Report is misguided on this point. As was pointed out by two separate parties in response to the UK’s 2011 Review of Intellectual Property and Growth[2]: Fair use leads to a system of “economic regulation by litigation”; and LexisNexis holds records of some 233 cases in the US that went to trial around the complexities of fair use interpretation, with likely many thousands more being settled before reaching court. If publishers view the new legislation as insufficiently clear they will not, as the Report seems to think, simply be inclined to rely on the courts to provide guidance – since this is an expensive and often protracted process. In Canada, for example, Access Copyright v York University has run since 2013 ( By the same token, educational publishers will not want to find themselves in a series of litigious exchanges with the educational institutions they seek to provide for. A less risky route for publishers would be not to publish for the educational sector at all, or to publish generic texts that have such a wide reach (outside Australia) that they can withstand widespread copying in Australia. Primary and Secondary schools and Higher Education Institutions will be left with generic content, parallel imports, and cheaply produced materials. Australian authors and Australian students will suffer. We argue that comparisons with the USA’s copyright regime are not necessarily helpful given the vast market and the extensive case law. (That said, Cambridge v Becker has been going on for eight years, and has proven a volatile case.)
  2. The report does not distinguish between materials that are specifically designed for education and those that are not. A general “fair use” for educational purposes might not be so damaging where the protected work is music or film – i.e. where the main market is elsewhere. But if this exception is applicable to educational materials then the permitted copying will be done by the core users. To that end, it is essential that core users should be pointed towards a licensing regime such as the one currently in place under CAL. See in particular Box 5.10 in the Report which suggests one of the fairness factors should be “nature of the copyright material” to which should be added “including its intended market” – meaning copying by a target end user is not acceptable whereas copying by an adjacent user might be fair.
  3. How an amended exception could work. As Canada has shown, the introduction of a broad fair use exception can cause irreparable damage both to the publishing industry and the students it caters for. Any change to the current fair dealing exception would therefore need to be accompanied by clear specific legislation and a robust Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licensing regime. CAL should be seen as facilitating access to excellent materials, not as a barrier. If Australian curricula require Australian specific content then someone, somewhere has to pay for it – and if authors and publishers are not remunerated for use of their materials by core target markets, then the costs of creating those materials (including the cost of an author’s time) will not be recovered, which is unsustainable. As mentioned above, it is likely that this would result in a reduction in the quality of educational content produced for Australian primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions by Australian authors and publishers. Essentially we see a distinction between limited use or access to short excerpts from educational material for a non-commercial, instructional purpose (i.e. to illustrate a point) and the systematic copying of educational material in order to avoid paying for it.
  1. It would be easier and clearer to retain the existing fair dealing exceptions and to add to them as necessary to provide greater flexibility. In the UK, for example, education is carved out as being a fair dealing exception to copyright infringement where use of materials is solely for the purpose of instruction. What’s been made very clear in the UK Act, however, is that schools still cannot make or use such copies if licences are available in relation to that kind of usage which the establishment was aware of, or should have been aware of. In other words schools don’t have a blanket right to use and copy valuable content for free. The UK Act also limits the amount of copying of a work which can be undertaken in any one quarter. This clarity protects authors and publishers whilst also giving schools the flexibility they need to use materials in the classroom.


  1. Cutting the term of copyright protection from 70 years after the death of the author to 15 – 25 years from creation (draft finding 4.2) would pose a major problem for the authors of both educational and academic textbooks. Our own experience does not support the Report’s assertion that the commercial life of most works is less than 5 years. Textbooks frequently take many years to draft and, in our experience, it’s often the case that they won’t reach peak sales until their 5th or 6th edition (which can be 25 years after initial publication). The length of time during which authors are able to earn royalties must reflect the years of labour that will have gone into writing their materials – and for publishers, the significant costs of developing and marketing a text effectively. If an original edition goes into the public domain just as the 5th edition is published, this will inevitably undermine sales and have a seriously detrimental effect on that author’s income. Further the idea of the period running “from creation” must be clarified. The process of creation can take many years, as we’ve said: surely the date of publication can be identified more readily?


  1. “Open Access” must be more carefully defined. There is no generally accepted definition of “Open Access” and it is commonly used to describe a wide variety of conditions. The US government instead uses “Public Access” to describe their policy (the significant difference being that Open Access usually denotes liberal reuse terms under a Creative Commons license, while Public Access denotes making a copy of the article freely available to readers.) Further, the international policies described in the Report require access only to the author’s Accepted Manuscript version of such articles, rather than the published Version of Record. Such clarifications must be made clear in any potential policy. If the policy requires the use of Creative Commons licensing or the use of the Version of Record, authors will be required to pay Open Access charges in order to comply, creating increased costs which must be accounted for.
  1. Great care should be taken in designing and implementing effective open access policies for funded research. There is a wealth of experience that has been gained from similar policies instituted throughout the world. Any such policy must, for instance, acknowledge the significant costs involved in the careful vetting and publication of this material. While funding may pay for the costs of the research itself, it frequently does not pay for publication costs. The use of public repositories also comes with significant costs. The US National Institute of Health’s PubMed Central reported an annual budget[3] of USD $4.5M in 2013 and NIH officials have noted significant increased costs in the intervening years. Policies that lack significant oversight, including monitoring and enforcement of compliance, have consistently shown low levels of success. In the UK, administrative costs in the first year of the RCUK policy were over £9.2M[4] and achieved only 20–30% compliance. Low cost alternatives, such as the CHORUS initiative[5] being used by the US National Science Foundation (amongst others) should be investigated as potential alternative mechanisms.
  1. “One size fits all” policies are inappropriate for scholarly literature. Intellectual property concerns and reader behavior differ vastly between different research communities. Because of this, great care must be taken in setting appropriate embargo periods for the amount of time allowed before public access to articles based on funded research is required. While much of the world has settled upon a 12-month embargo period as appropriate for biomedical research literature, longer embargo periods are generally employed for other areas of funded research, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences. If embargo periods are too short, authors will be required to pay publication charges in order to comply with such policies, increasing costs and taking vital funding away from research itself.


  1. Repeal of parallel import restrictions may have unfortunate consequences for the Australian economy, publishers, and authors. In OUP’s experience, if it is permitted for print (or even digital) textbooks, including those published by Australian publishers, to be imported into Australia after having been purchased by importers in low-priced markets, the publishers and authors will suffer between 30 and 50% reduction in revenue for each title, and resulting in the reduction of the number of Australian books published for Australian educators and students. The Australian publishing industry will go the way of the Australian automobile manufacturing industry. While we agree that Australian consumers should not be subject to artificial price inflations for luxury goods, there must logically be a link between pricing and the local GDP per person. Local economies inform the price at which items like books are sold – the idea of having a single, lowest price for all across different markets is unrealistic.
  1. Geographic price differentiation for books is done to achieve two laudable goals: (i) To make high-quality books available in developing markets that otherwise would not be able to afford them (one could do this so long as the low-priced market price was at or above the margin cost of production), and (ii) to further reduce the prices of those books in the home market by allowing for longer print-runs and providing small incremental revenue to offset other costs. If the US experience is replicated, publishers would have no choice but to respond to a relaxation of restrictions on re-importation. And there are only three ways a publisher can do so (these are essentially mutually exclusive for any one title):
    1. They can decide not to resell or license their books outside of the markets that support higher prices. This will effectively cause a drop in the value of Australian exports.
    2. They can par-price their product globally at the higher market price. In the case of Australian-produced products, this will result in an only-slightly-less significant drop in exports of books by Australian authors published by Australian publishers. This will also cause a rise in prices on the books in Australia.
    3. They can invest in producing adapted version of books for export markets, these adapted books being different enough that they cannot substitute for the book in the home market. This causes local price rises, as the significant costs of adaptations are recovered from the higher-priced markets. This is only worthwhile in cases where the books are big sellers in low-priced markets.


  1. In summary, Oxford University Press strongly opposes these four suggested changes to Australian IP law, and fully endorses the APA’s submission on this. As a mission-led member of the Australian educational community, we assert that these proposed amendments would cause irreversible damage to local, Australian publishing. Of course we speak from a publishing point of view, but from our experiences (and those of our peers) regarding the implementation of fair use in Canada, we also know what a fundamentally damaging impact these sorts of amendments can have on local authors, educators and students. In essence a successful copyright regime is one which balances the requirements of creators and users in the clearest way possible. Ambiguity only leads to litigation, generic content, and economic uncertainty at all levels of the creative ecosystem.

Peter Van Noorden
Managing Director of Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand
Date: 03.06.16


[1] p.74 of the Report: “Copyright law was first introduced by churches and the state, in Europe, following the introduction of printing presses in the mid-15th century, as a way to prevent the dissemination of ideas.”
[2] Supporting Document Q: Fair Use and the Independent Review

Oxford Word of the Month: June – Convict class

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noun: the cheapest class of travel; economy class.

One of the most frequent complaints when it comes to travel is flying in economy class, especially on international flights. A popular term used to refer to economy class is cattle class, alluding to passengers being herded into close proximity in narrow seats with cramped leg room. An Australian variant of cattle class is convict class.

Convict class has its origin in Australia’s history as a penal settlement. The original sense of the term dates back to the nineteenth century, when convict class was frequently used to describe the very large number of convicts that formed part of Australian colonial society. The conditions aboard the ships that brought them to Australia were grim:

The convict-ship … was rivalled in its horrors only by the slave ship; indeed if the physical suffering was greater in the latter, in moral torture and mental defilement the hold of the convict-ship had, beyond all doubt, the bad pre-eminence. (J.B. Marsden, Memoirs of the Life and Labours of the Rev. Samuel Marsden of Parramatta, 1858)

The idea of convicts traveling to Australia in less than salubrious circumstances is alluded to in the more recent, transferred sense of convict class:

Convict class. On a recent flight from Hobart to Melbourne, my meal consisted of two biscuits and a glass of water. Even the convicts got more than that! (Hobart Mercury, 8 August 2003)

This comment may also be playing on the original sense of convict class, as the writer was traveling from Hobart, a place traditionally associated with convict heritage.

An extract from mX also alludes to the historical experiences of convicts, in this case to humorously deride those people who were nominated for an Academy Award and lost, but who would be consoled by a free trip to an Australian resort:

Like the ‘losers’ of old, today’s Oscar losers can pack their swag bags for Australia—although they will hardly be travelling convict class. When the winners are announced, don’t shed a tear for those who didn’t nab a golden statuette—they will receive luxury consolation in the form of a $45,000 goodie bag that includes a choice of two six-star Aussie holidays. (25 February 2013)

While there is still only limited evidence of the use of convict class to refer to cheap and less luxurious travel, the term is both colourful and distinctively Australian. We can be thankful that travel today does not involve the ‘moral torture and mental defilement’ inflicted on the original convict class—although some unhappy travellers may disagree.

Convict class is included in the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary (forthcoming 2016).

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