Thomas More Law School celebrates first PhD graduates

Published: Wednesday 16th November 2016

ACU’s Thomas More Law School has already seen the first of its PhD students graduate, ahead of the first undergraduate cohort at the end of this year.

The three students are the first graduates of the School, with Kylie Pappalardo and Kunle Ola graduating last month and Ben Atkinson graduating in May.

It is unusual for a Law School to graduate its first PhD students before it sees the first cohort of undergraduates complete their degrees. The fact that we have done so says something important about the value placed on research and scholarship here at the Thomas More Law School. The contribution of these Higher Degree Research students to the intellectual life of the School is something that both staff and students have benefited from.

Each of the students focused on various aspects of Intellectual Property under the supervision of Adjunct Professor Brian Fitzgerald.

Dr. Ola’s PhD thesis focused on Copyright Law, while also including other areas of law such as Contract and Human Rights.

He said the significance of his research was its focus on the idea that open access to knowledge is fundamental to development.

“The Thomas More Law School has been at the forefront of supporting open access to knowledge through conferences and seminars and by providing the platform for the successful completion of this PhD research,” Dr. Ola said.

In contrast, Dr. Atkinson’s research focus is on the role of proprietary rights allocation in creating social inequality.

“The problem of social inequality is intractable until the exclusionary effect of ownership is understood and initiatives adopted to reduce the scale of ownership, creating a larger public domain outside ownership,” he said.

Dr. Pappalardo’s research focused on the intersection between tort law and copyright law in regulating online intermediaries (like ISPs and Google) for acts of copyright infringement committed by users.

“This research is significant because it provides a new way to conceptualise the role of internet intermediaries in supporting cultural production,” Dr. Pappalardo said.

“This thesis identifies a set of normative principles for determining the legal responsibilities of intermediaries in the digital economy and seeks to articulate the foundational conditions for successful benefit sharing partnerships between intermediaries and creators,” she said.