Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Australia Copyright proposal, a step forward or a step backward?

There are two conflicting headlines about the current proposal Changes to the Copyright Act:

From Sydney Morning Herald [via Boingboing]:

Under the Australian Government's proposed new copyright laws it will no longer be technically illegal to tape TV shows or rip tracks from your CD onto your iPod. That's the good part - getting rid of something that almost everybody had honoured in the breach.

But it replaces that stupid law with another stupider one - one that can never be properly policed and one which will continue to put almost everyone in breach of the copyright laws.

Under these proposed new laws it will be illegal - for instance - to lend a video copy of a TV show you have made to your family or friends if you have already watched that copy.

And those same proposed laws will required you to delete that program once you've watched it once. Yeah, sure everyone's going to observe that one.

LawFont.com via OLDaily
Some good news from Australia, where the government appears to have determined that draconian copyright restrictions are perhaps not in the country's best interests after all. In summary, the AG has announced:
- use exceptions - time-shifting and format-shifting;
- exceptions for schools, universities, libraries, and other cultural institutions - exceptions for people with disabilities;
- exceptions to allow parody or satire;
"If the changes go as far as the press release indicates, the government will have dealt with some long-standing issues in Copyright law."

So I dig a little and find this:

From LawFont.com, "No fair use for Australia - but some expanded exceptions for time-shifting, format-shifting, parody - and more (with a not-so-little serving of enforcement on the side)". That means I cannot quote this like. I will be committing a crime when I quote. That's would be a big trouble for any academic work. Clarify, CLARIFY please!

New exceptions for private use:

1. Time-shifting - but limited to be viewed only once. Does this mean that when you view while recording, you cannot view your recording! And this is also limited to be viewed by the person who made the recording. So my wife is NOT allowed to tape a TV program for me to view later!

2. Format-shifting - but no more "backup" allowed for the original! I suppose we may need format-shift the same recording to multiple different formats in order to protect our treasure recordings. By the way, you must own the original in the first place. Who should bear the burden of proof in case you need to show that you own the original copy? The defender or the prosecutor? If the burden is on the defender, you need to keep receipts of EVERYTHING you bought and will buy forever and hope that these receipts will not disappear or misplaced. If it is the prosecutor, it would be interesting to see how a prosecutor may prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you never obtain a legal copy in the past somewhere in the world from someone who nobody can remember. Oh, by the way, if you purchase a music online, somehow you must store the transaction details safely somewhere.

The other four exceptions are: non-commercial uses by libraries, museums and archives; non-commercial uses by educational institutions for the purpose of teaching [Is research included?]; non-commercial uses for the benefit of people with disabilities and lastly parody and satire [What about compliments?].

Ah, Revised presumptions: The Government will make it easier for copyright owners and prosecutors to prove ownership and subsistence of copyright. This will make it harder for copyright pirates to frustrate proceedings in court.

Pay TV piracy: As announced last year, dishonestly accessing pay TV services will be criminalised. Under the new measures, it will also be an offence for a pay TV subscriber to distribute a subscription broadcast to other premises or for a subscriber to use the broadcast for commercial purposes if the appropriate subscription fee has not been paid.

Can I also ask the government to criminalise those broadcasters who send unsolicited electromagnetic waves into my home without my consent - especially those who want to charge me if I happen to be able to pick up the signal?

Sorry mate, I think we are a BIG step background.

But it is a BIG step forward in terms of the skill of the current government kowtow to our US big brother!

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