Multimedia is a significant creative medium. It is a presentation, by means of an electronic non-linear delivery system, of some combination of media forms such as voice, music, video, photographs, graphics, animation and text. An electronic non-linear delivery system is a combination of hardware and software which gives the user control over the order in which content is accessed.
Until a few years ago, most computer software was aimed primarily at business and education markets. However the household market has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2000, 53% of households (3.8 million) had access to a computer at home and 33% (2.3 million) had home Internet access.
In 2000, 9.1 million persons aged 18 years or over, 66% of Australian adults, used a computer. Over this period, 46% of adults used a computer at home, 42% used one at work and 37% did so at sites other than home or work. Over half of the adults using a computer at home (53%) did so for work-related purposes. Other popular uses were for study or learning (40%), for personal or family correspondence (43%), to keep personal or family records (36%) and to play games (35%). Each of these purposes was reported by more than a third of those adults who used a computer at home over the period.
In 2000, 6.5 million persons aged 18 years or over, 47% of the adult population, accessed the Internet. Over this period 29% of adults accessed the Internet at home, 23% accessed it at work and 22% did so at sites other than home or work. Two-thirds of adults accessing the Internet at home used email or visited chat sites (68%). Over half were browsing or surfing (57%), and one-third accessed the Internet for work related purposes over the period (36%). During 2000, about 967,000 adults (7%) used the Internet to purchase or order goods and services for private use. For more information see Communications and information technology.
The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DOCITA), through multimedia programs such as Australia on CD and Australia's Cultural Network, has undertaken to promote and provide access to Australia's cultural collections, while forming partnerships with the cultural institutions and multimedia producers involved. DOCITA has developed the Internet site ArtsInfo as a single point of access to the Australian cultural sector and has supported the development of the Australian Museums On Line site and the Archives of Australia site.
The Australia on CD program is designed to showcase a wide range of Australian cultural endeavour, artistic performance and heritage achievements, and to foster the development of the Australian multimedia industry.
Through the Australia on CD program, the Commonwealth Government has funded the production of ten interactive CD-ROMs covering areas such as Australia's prehistory, the environment, the performing and visual arts, the history of immigration of Australia, sport, science and rock'n'roll. Two copies of each title have been distributed to all Australian primary and secondary schools, public libraries, Austrade offices, overseas missions and members of Parliament.
Australia's Cultural Network, relaunched in June 2001 as the http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au portal, is the on-line gateway to Australia's cultural organisations, resources, activities and events. The Network has two main objectives: to improve and develop on-line access to, and participation in, Australian cultural endeavour, activities and events; and to improve the prosperity of Australian cultural organisations and cultural workers. This gateway Internet site provides fast access to hundreds of cultural Internet sites nationwide. A national calendar of cultural events is a key feature of the site, with a range of resources to assist Australian cultural industries.
The Performing Arts Multimedia Library, a joint project between DOCITA and Cinemedia, involves the creation of a digital library of significant Australian performances, new and existing, across the range of live performance, for use in multiple electronic environments such as the Internet, Pay TV, video and multimedia. The project has been used as a testbed program for government and performing arts companies to identify and attempt to resolve the legal, contractual and technical issues associated with the recording and electronic distribution of recorded performances.
Australian Museums On Line (AMOL) is the electronic gateway to Australian museums, galleries and cultural institutions. AMOL is an initiative of the Heritage Collections Council, which coordinates national approaches to caring for, and promoting access to, Australia's heritage collections. AMOL's Guide to Australian Museums lists over 1,000 national, regional and local museums across Australia, with information being accessible through a range of search options such as region, collection type and collection strength. The Open Collections section of AMOL offers a searchable collection database comprising almost half a million object level records, including over 50 full collections. It also features a growing number of knowledge-based stories about various collections and objects within collections. The Museum Craft section provides access to a range of resources for museums workers, including conservation resources and information, online discussion forums, an online Open Museum Journal, links to important Australian and overseas museums sites, and information about contacts and associations, jobs and training, events, publications and grants. Since October 1998, the site has averaged well over 250,000 hits per month, representing more than 9,000 users in 2000.
The ArtsInfo Internet site brings together information on the wide array of cultural grants and support programs, as well as industry training and development programs, offered by all levels of government and by non-government organisations. ArtsInfo also provides access to a business showcase of Australia's cultural products and services and a resource section including industry bulletin boards, a directory of training, tutorials, a festival directory and fact sheets.
Two important amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 have been introduced in the last twelve months. They are the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000, which came into force on 4 March 2001, and the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000, which has been in force since late December 2000. These Acts update Australian copyright law to take account of the Internet and the rapid changes being made in technology, and introduce new rights for creators to allow them to protect their works from derogatory treatment.