Andrew Bartlett, one of the few Australian politicians to have a blog, and who was on the Senate Committee that met yesterday to talk about the Copyright Amendment Bill, has this to say:

The legislation has presented me with a bit of a dilemma. It is very complex and many groups have an interest in various parts of it. I have a responsibility to try to get across the legislation and the concerns expressed about it, but I also know the chances of my views having an impact on getting changes made to the legislaiton are fairly minimal. Given I have the major environment law changes on my plate, not to mention trying to ensure I reach as informed a decision as possible on the embryo legislation, as well as plenty of other debates running such as climate change and the water crisis, it does raise the issue of whether the balancing of my priorities would include basically letting the Copyright Bill go through to the keeper. Perhaps I should, but I find copyright issues personally fascinating, so I am keen to grab the opportunity to get a better understanding of it, even if I am unlikely to be able to get changes made at this stage.

And there we have it. When I said, on this blog, a while ago, that I thought it would be a waste of time to make submissions to the Senate given the short time to consider teh Bill (making the process, in my view, something of a farce given the complexity of the Bill), I was told by people from government that I was wrong, that my submission would be important and would be considered.

I came this close (makes small space between fingers) to not submitting. Like Senator Bartlett, I considered ‘letting this one through to the keeper’.  In the end, I submitted on two issues I considered fundamental, and within my expertise: the apparent cap on fair dealing for research, and the criminal provisions.  I suspect I should have stuck to my original intention.  Because what has happened is that the more I have looked into it, the more I have realised how seriously overbroad the criminal provisions are.  I have researched the government’s own principles on the imposition of strict liability, and found these laws wanting on many, if not most, of the criteria.  I have become more concerned, even as I have been forced to acknowledge that the government just isn’t interested in hearing it.
All I can hope is that the government sees the light on this, and makes a real effort to narrow the laws to their intended targets. It can, and should, be done.