There was a recent news story about Coles changing the name of a product line of biscuits from “Creole Creams” as a response to criticisms that the name was racist.

The more interesting aspect to the story — not commented on anywhere that I could find — was why Coles might have chosen the name “Creole Creams”.

On the surface, it seems an odd choice. What does a term for persons of French/Spanish descent — and often used particularly nowadays to describe a people located around and in the Louisiana area — have to do with a biscuit (aka cookie)?

The short answer seemed to be me to be the first four letters of the word. The fragment “creo” looks very much like “oreo”. And, as the articles note, “Creole Creams” biscuits “resemble Oreo biscuits”.

A picture shows it even more clearly (noting the use of the lower case C):
Creole Creams

Maybe I’m off-base on this one, and I’m open to comments/correction, but I wonder whether the name was chosen to fit around that fragment, on the basis it would have subliminal effect?

There have already been a few articles about the Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd v EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited case.

The first thing to note is that the decision is just on a preliminary question. This is a procedural device used where it is likely to help save the court’s (and parties’) time and resources. In this case, the issue is just: for the purposes of this suit, does the applicant actually own the copyright it is seeking to enforce. If not, obviously, it would be possible to dismiss the case straight away, saving the expense of a trial. In this case, the preliminary question is simply a determination of a basic fact. (more…)

Sorry about the outage – had some technical problems for much of today. Lawfont is back and should be fine now (touch wood)… .

From a contributor:

So I was walking down Martin Place at 5pm on Monday night. A group of about 10-15 pilgrims were having their photos taken. Most were standing or sitting on top of the military memorial, happily shouting out and whooping it up. Normally I would politely ask people doing this to step off the memorial out of respect for the people it commemorates (soldiers who died in their service to the country).

But I didn’t, because I was worried I might be accused of “annoying” them and getting arrested.

Is this a chilling effect or what?

The relevant rule is in the World Youth Day Regulation 2008, specifically reg 7(1)(b):

7 Control of conduct within World Youth Day declared areas

(1) An authorised person may direct a person within a World Youth Day declared area to cease engaging in conduct that:

  • (a) is a risk to the safety of the person or others, or
  • (b) causes annoyance or inconvenience to participants in a World Youth Day event, or
  • (c) obstructs a World Youth Day event.

(2) A person must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to comply with a direction given to the person under subclause (1).

Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units.

(3) A person is not guilty of an offence under this clause unless it is established that the authorised person warned the person that a failure to comply with the direction is an offence.

(4) In this clause, authorised person means:

  • (a) a police officer, or
  • (b) a member of an SES unit (within the meaning of the State Emergency Service Act 1989) or a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service, but only if the member is authorised by the Authority in writing for the purposes of this clause.

So even assuming that the conduct can be classed as “annoying”, it first looks like they need to be “participants in a World Youth Day event”. This is defined in the principal act (World Youth Day Act 2006) as follows: “World Youth Day event means any event determined by the Authority to be an event associated with World Youth Day 2008.” A private lark looks like it might not qualify.

Next, you need to be directed to “cease” engaging in the conduct, by a police officer or authorised member, and they must “warn[ ]” you “that a failure to comply with the direction is an offence”.

Finally, you have to “fail to comply with” that direction “without reasonable excuse”. If you’ve already said your piece and moved on, then this might not apply.

But, once the section bites, it can bite hard: the maximum penalty is 50 penalty units, which is $5,500. (Note that a lower penalty may be awarded.)

To give some context, this is the same maximum penalty as:

  • * impersonating, or falsely representing to be an authorised building inspector: sec 86 of the Building Professionals Act 2005
  • * a casino operating free liquor as an inducement to gamble in the casino: reg 23, Casino Control Regulation 2001
  • * advertising that you are a chiropractor when you are not registered: sec 7, Chiropractors Act 2001
  • * failing to notify the Commissioner of Police in writing within 14 days if your genuine or legitimate reason for owning a firearm is no longer valid: reg 14, Firearms Regulation 2006


The Full Federal Court has just declared reg 7(1)(b) “invalid to the extent that it seeks to prevent merely annoying conduct”: see Evans v State of New South Wales.

The key passages are:

83 In our opinion the conduct regulated by cl 7(1)(b) so far as it relates to “annoyance” may extend to expressions of opinion which neither disrupt nor interfere with the freedoms of others, nor are objectively offensive in the sense traditionally used in State criminal statutes. Breach of this provision as drafted affects freedom of speech in a way that, in our opinion, is not supported by the statutory power conferred by s 58 properly construed. Moreover there is no intelligible boundary within which the “causes annoyance” limb of s 7 can be read down to save it as a valid expression of the regulating power.


88 For the preceding reasons, the Court will make a declaration that cl 7(1)(b) is invalid to the extent to which it is applied to conduct which causes annoyance to participants in World Youth Day events. There is otherwise in cl 7 a substantial measure of protection against disruptive behaviour, behaviour which causes inconvenience to participants and behaviour which may give rise to a risk to public safety. Over and above these provisions the general criminal laws of the State relating to disorderly and offensive conduct and the like are able to be invoked should that be necessary.

Note that, to the extent the regulation prohibits causing “inconvenience”, it remains valid:

84 … While the term is broad it does not depend upon the subjective reactions of participants in World Youth Day events to the conduct in question. It requires a judgment by the authorised person of objective inconvenience. Such inconvenience may arise, for example, where protestors by their locations or actions hinder or obstruct the movement of participants or are so loud in their protest as to impair communications between groups of participants and officials. The term “inconvenience” may be criticised as conferring wide powers of uncertain ambit upon authorised persons but it is, in our opinion, a term which can reasonably be construed as limited to matters susceptible of objective judgment. The term does not reach so far as to impair expression of opinions with which people might disagree or which they might find troubling. In our opinion that aspect of cl 7(1)(b) does not spell invalidity.

The New York Times carried a story about a lawsuit filed by restaurant owner Rebecca Charles, proprietor of the Pearl Oyster Bar in New York’s West Village. The article mentions that she has sued Ed McFarland, owner of Ed’s Oyster Bar, she considers to be a “knockoff” of her own. McFarland was her former sous chef for six years. [And yes, apologies for the pun in the title.] (more…)

You’ve probably never heard of Fyodor, or I expect you will over the next few days as the mainstream media begins to pick up on a Harry Potter story. Fyodor is a very gifted programmer who created an extremely valuable security analysis program called nmap over 10 years ago, and has been maintaining and improving it ever since. nmap is one of the most widely-used vulnerability scanners, and was even featured in the second Matrix movie (pictures are at the bottom of the home page. Geek trivia: the versions of nmap, the target computer system, and the actual vulnerability are historically accurate.)

What does this have to do with Harry Potter? Well, Fyodor also hosts a number of extremely useful computer security discussion lists on his site. And on one of those, a day ago, someone posting as “Gabriel” posted a message entitled “Harry Potter 0day”. (“0day” is jargon for “zero day”, and is used to denote a file — originally software, but more commonly now films or music — that is released onto the underground scene on the day of its public release. This kind of piracy gives bragging rights to the crackers.) In the post, Gabriel claims to give spoilers as to the ending of the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book. (more…)

It suddenly occurred to me that there might be a better way of verifying my impression that would have lost readers as a result of its move from an html-based subscription model to the awful Flash-based one I wrote about recently. (Others seem to have similar opinions – see eg this well-written post at ExplodedLibrary bunker.)

Enter Alexa, a site for measuring web traffic. Now it’s not perfect, but any systematic under/over counts or reporting biases should remain relatively constant over time — meaning that somewhat meaningful comparisons can be drawn against its own figures from different time periods, even if they cannot necessarily be drawn against data from other statistics sites.

Without further ado, here is the 5 year graph of traffic to as measured by Alexa. That crater in mid-2006 corresponds, unsurprisingly enough, with the introduction of AFR Access. views over 5 years

(permanent link)

A comparison against other Australian and international news sites is also instructive. (more…)

Judge Posner posted a very insightful entry on the Becker-Posner blog concerning family control of voting stock in media companies, a topical subject given Rupert Murdoch’s overtures to the Bancroft family regarding the Wall Street Journal.

Of interest is this quote, which shows how well he “gets” the internet: (more…)

Those of you who have tried to post any comments recently may have noticed that I have added an anti-spam “captcha” feature (type into a box the words you see generated onscreen). It’s a shame it’s necessary, but the spammers are getting more sophisticated.

The good part is that the captcha is part of a program currently being used to digitise books from the Internet Archive and make them freely available. Kudos to the authors from Carnegie Mellon University.

Judge Eduardo Robreno of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has handed down a very interesting judgment dismissing two motions by Linden Labs (the makers of Second Life) in a lawsuit brought by lawyer Marc Bragg.

Bragg signed up to Second Life in 2005. He said he was induced into “investing” in virtual land by representations made by Linden and Rosedale in press releases, interviews, and through the Second Life website, and paid real money as “tax” on his virtual land. (more…)

I opened the Fin Review today to see a double page ad spread for the new Fantastic, I thought; they’ve ditched the awful experiment that was AFR Access and reverted to an html-based site that I can actually use.

For those who never subscribed, the Fin Review originally had one of the best on-line services (see a sample view), with some stories free to all users, and some only available to subscribers. I used the free service since 1996 or 1997, and then had a subscription via my former employer, which I used daily.

Then for some reason Fairfax decided to switch to a flash-based version in mid 2006, called AFR Access. I tried it a couple of times, and gave up: it was impossibly slow, unwieldy, and offered no benefits at all over the former version — while introducing plenty of needless annoyances and a poor user interface. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was put off, as someone a few months ago mentioned a Crikey story that there were only 2,000 subscribers, about 1/10th of the budgeted amount. (Just found it – here it is.) (more…)

To continue the renewal, we have also updated the site’s look and feel. Not a huge change, but I think it’s cleaner and quicker-loading, and I hope you agree.

There is also a “mobile” skin, for those accessing LawFont through a hand-held device, which reduces the amount of data loaded and formats better for a small screen — no need to select it, as it should kick in automatically(“WordPress mobile” from

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article on Vista’s EULA. The EULA (available here in PDF format) provides for Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium the following “additional licence term”:

USE WITH VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES. You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.

Leaving aside the issue of whether an EULA actually is a contract (as against an attempt to turn a copyright licence into a contract) a few interesting points emerge. (more…)

Random question for the day: where does the tortured language used in newspapers to describe offences with which people have been charged come from?

For example, in this article on 15 January, the SMH wrote of a man accused of raping a woman after hiding in her car’s boot:

“He was charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated detain person for advantage, take and drive conveyance and escape police custody.”

Only the first offence is reported in normal English. The remainder are described curiously ungrammatically. The terminology isn’t based — as one might initially suspect — in the language of the Crimes Act. So why use it? (more…)

Apple has launched iTunes and Online Apple Stores in New Zealand. Interestingly, songs are priced at NZ$1.79, which equates to A$1.56 at today’s rates. This compares with A$1.69 at the Australian iTunes store.

Similarly, music videos are NZ$3.59 (A$3.13) and most albums are NZ$17.99 (A$15.68), compared with A$3.39 and A$16.99 respectively. (Not all albums are as much on the Australian store; for example Boston’s self-titled first album is A$13.52)

Of course, these compare with US$0.99 (A$1.26), US $1.99 (A$2.52) and US$9.99 (A$12.68) respectively at the US store.

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