March 2006

The Internet and blogosphere have been rife, just recently, with a story that first emerged in The Australian. The story went under the headline: ‘Copyright makes web a turn-off’, and came with this as the rather glorious (and alarmist!) first paragraph:

‘Schools have warned they will have to turn off the internet if a move by the nation’s copyright collection society forces them to pay a fee every time a teacher instructs students to browse a website’

What on earth could be going on? Well, I admit it, I’ve been hearing about this for some time, and I really should have blogged it before now. But following comments (and ‘please explains’) from both Michael Geist, and Michael Madison, some commentary on Boing Boing, and by Warwick Rothnie, and the emergence of the story on the Linux Australia listservs, it’s definitely time to weigh in.

Is such a radical argument being made? Oh, yes. The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), an Australian collecting society isn’t demanding that schools ‘turn off the internet’. But they ARE demanding that schools pay when students are told to look at stuff. claiming that when students are told to look at sites online, that is a remunerable activity, and hence something that should be included in calculating rates that schools pay under the statutory license. The argument is a step in the more immediate question, which relates to what questions are to be put on an electronic use survey. [updated to clarify – Monday, 6 March 2006, 5:30pm]. (more…)

I blogged briefly yesterday about the release of the TPM Inquiry Report; it’s been attracting some international interest, and you can see my previous post for links to that commentary.

I’m still trying to digest the effect of the report. But the AFR has a story today (sorry, subscription only) noting that the report may well lead to conflict with the US. And here’s the kicker: our Trade Minister is apparently meeting US trade officials in Washington DC next week to review the first 15 months of the FTA.

What’s the bet he gets a bit of a pounding on the Report? But what to do? The dictates of Australian politics, and international realpolitik may be in conflict here. (more…)

Well, it’s out. Yesterday, the House of Reps Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs released its report on the Review of Technological Protection Measures Exceptions. This is the committee set up to examine what exceptions should be created, as Australia implements Article 17.4.7 of the AUSFTA, which requires Australia to implement stronger anti-circumvention laws, more akin to the US DMCA.

And what a report it is. It has a list of 37 recommendations, many of which are concerned with protecting user interests. More over the fold. (more…)

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today announced the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) will review Schedule 7 of the Anti­Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005 and the provisions of Part IIA of the Crimes Act 1914. The Terms of Reference are not yet on the website, but I’ve copied them over the fold. Interesting that the terms ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘freedom of artistic expression’ don’t make their way onto the terms of reference at all, since that was part of the public debate that led to the reference. But certainly ‘any related matter’ is broad enough to cover those issues.

It’s a really tight timetable though – the press release says that the ALRC has to report by May 2006. Doesn’t the government want a real review? (more…)

Napster CEO has pointed the finger at Microsoft as part of the reason it has not been successful competing against Apple’s iTunes. “There is no question that their execution has been less than brilliant over the last 12 months,” the article quotes Napster CEO and Chairman as saying. (more…)

The LA Times is carrying a remarkable story about a man charged with criminal offences in relation to the leaking of documents of Diebold Corporation, makers of electronic ballot systems used in US elections. (more…)

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