I was in Canberra this week, not just to speak to the ACT Society for Technology and Law (about P2P stuff), but also to talk at an ADA forum on the forthcoming OzDMCA (our new anti-circumvention laws).

Two things I learned at the forum.

First, the cultural and educational sectors (the most represented group at the forum) were focused almost solely on exceptions: and whether the exceptions would fit their needs. This of course should not be surprising – of all the people in the world, it is likely to be the cultural and educational institutions who are best placed to take advantage of exceptions, if they are created. And of course the government has steered discussion in the direction of exceptions through the process they adopted in the LACA. But there’s so much more to the laws, and so many more important things – the biggest single question about these laws has to be how broadly will they reach? I focused on that question in my talk, and produced a table summarising all the areas, in terms of scope, where the government has choices to make (hopefully, this will go up on the ADA website sometime, but feel free to email me for a copy). But my concern would be that the government’s focus on the views of ‘stakeholders’ in their consultations may mean they, too, think that granting enough exceptions will end up being enough to write a balanced law. Gee, I hope not.

Second, the timetable. For those who don’t already know, the plan outlined by a government representative was

  1. draft legislation out probably around the end of August, or at least within 1 month,
  2. 3 week period for comment on the legislation, and
  3. introduction and passing of legislation by the end of the Aug-Dec sittings

The one thing that worries me about the proposed timetable is that it is looking like the regulations (which will determine at least the additional exceptions) will come out later – probably AFTER the 3 week period for comment on the legislation. Making it, of course, much harder to comment sensibly. This has happened a bit lately (as far as I know, the regulations going with the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill aren’t out yet, nor are the regulations that go with the Trade Marks Bill). I don’t know why.