The ‘war on terror’ has created the conditions for a new era of content regulation in the form of censorship of film and literature, broadcasting content standards and restrictions on the media in respect of national security matters. This week David Marr commented on the Attorney-General’s recent daubing (sorry I am sticking with the “unifinished canvas” metaphor) – the Material that Advocates Terrorism Discussion Paper released in May 2007 and the upcoming meeting with the States in Hobart at the end of this week. The Discussion Paper attracted many submissions from a diverse group of interested parties. See the submissions. The comments of Maureen Shelley from the Office of Film and Literature Classification Board echo the sentiments in many of the submissions made to the Attorney-General on the terrorism materials paper – that the new regulatory framework is “a significant departure from current practice”. The thrust of many of the submissions and the gist of Marr’s piece is that the changes sought by the A-G will have far reaching, potentially absurd, possibly discriminatory, unintended negative effects on the creation of and access to a broad range of films and literature which “might” fall within the new classification category. Led Zepplin comes to mind “oohh…it makes me wonder”…

In my last post I referred to the Electronic Frontiers Foundation rather than Electronic Frontiers Australia, Inc (EFA). Electronic Frontiers Australia made the submission to the Senate Committee reviewing the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Bill 2007. My sincere apologies for any confusion caused – it was a typo on my part.

Following on from Kim’s last post, if there was ever a time when national security and anti- terrorism legislation wasn’t a tech-law issue, that time has passed. The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Bill 2007 is currently before a Senate Committee. There are 26 submissions . The industry will have to get its head around the new framework. National Security is now a tech law issue and I think it is going to get complicated.

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.

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 AlexKing.org).

Although our frequency of posts has dropped off since the second half of 2006, things have been going on behind the scenes at LawFont.

Kim has recovered from her 2006 overload, and will be blogging primarily on Australian intellectual property issues. Sarah hopes to be back soon, and will be blogging again on a range of issues, mostly on developments outside of Australia.

Finally, we’d like to formally welcome our new blogger. Susanne is particularly interested in the regulation of communications and media content, counter-terrorism and national security regulation, and administrative law. We are very happy to have her with us!

Not before time, the UK has opened up the UK Statute Law Database (SLD) – the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom – for free, public use. This will be really useful: I’ve always hated trying to find UK legislation, and thought they really needed a proper AustLII. Hat tip: Boing Boing.

about fair use, space shifting/personal copying, the DMCA – can be found on Bill Patry’s blog here.

You will find, after a period of seriously heavy blogging recently owing to the Australian Copyright Amendment Bill, this blog will be a lot less active in the next while.

I’m in Melbourne, but preparing for a permanent move to the University of Queensland, site of the excellent ACIPA research centre on IP in January, and in any event, the urgency has gone out of the whole blogging thing now that the Bill is more or less done and dusted. We are all a bit copyrighted and commented and submissioned and discussioned out.

But there’s a couple of interesting things going on: one in open access in Australia, one in copyright in Germany. More over the fold… (more…)

Brian Fitzgerald’s team at QUT, Brisbane are having an event next Wednesday, 29 November, which will be both a cc Salon (showcase of CC material) and the launch of the OAK Law (Open Access to Law) Report which was released in late September.


When? 29 November 2006
What time? 6pm
Where? The Block, QUT Creative Industries Precinct,
Corner of Musk Ave and Kelvin Grove Rd, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane.
RSVP? It appears not; the event is free, all welcome.
More? More information here (CC) and here (OAK Law)

There is an OAK Law launch in Sydney, too, on 30 November; more here.

The Copyright Amendment Bill has made the Age newspaper again, in this story: ‘The $65,000 question: do you own an iPod?’.  Just try to ignore the fact that they’ve apparently decided I’m a man.  I guess (a) outspoken plus (b) Senior Lecturer and Associate Director necessarily means (c) male.  I’ll try not to get a complex…

Slashdot also has a story, although the thread there, as usual when law is discussed, is full of misunderstandings and inaccuracies.

Hat tip to Michael Napthali: this – from the educational show ‘Behind the News’ – is what kids are being taught about copyright law in Australia:

You’ll soon be allowed to tape your favourite tv program to watch at another time. But you have to delete the recording after one use. You are not allowed to give the recording to a friend. They can come over and watch the program with you, but they can’t take it home.

With MP3s, you can copy your music collection from CDs and other formats to MP3 players. You can even make a compilation CD of all your favourite songs from CDs you own, as long as you put them on a different format, like MP3. But you’re not allowed to share your compilation with a friend, although they can listen to it with you.

The laws are designed to crack down on people who make profit from piracy.’

L.O.L. It’s mostly accurate (the ‘watch once’ condition I don’t think is there). But do you think that this will make any sense at all to kids?

The New York Times is carrying a story about an artist who is being sued by the University of Alabama. His wrongdoing? Selling paintings of football matches that include players wearing the university’s “famous crimson and white color scheme”.

According to the article, the suit is a trade mark action, and it is not someone’s idea of a joke. The artist, Daniel Moore, has been painting football pictures for over 25 years, and says he paints using photographs for reference, but adds his own interpretation and style to them. The accompanying photos suggest that Moore does have an ultra-realistic style. The lawsuit alleges that Moore’s paintings are effectively facsimile images of a football ‘play’ and “adds no message whatever not conveyed by the play itself”. (more…)

Just a quick note to say that on Monday, at lunch time (12:45-2pm), UNSW and the Australian Consumers’ Association are hosting the famous Jamie Love (cptech) at UNSW. I’ll be there as an Australian voice/commentator.

Title: ‘The new “Protectionism”: Can copyright Technological Protection Measures deliver a fair result for the new digital consumer and producer?’
Date: Monday 13 November 2006
Time: 12:45-2pm
Venue: UNSW Law Faculty (the new one on lower campus) theatre G02

James Love is the Director of the Consumer Project on Technology, an international consumer advocacy organisation with offices in Washington, London and Geneva. It focuses on ‘issues concerning the production of and access to knowledge, including medical inventions, information and cultural goods, and other knowledge goods’. Kim Weatherall is an intellectual property academic from the IP Research Institute of Australia.
Issues will include:
* Can or will the current and longstanding practises of artists, writers, musicians, students, video content producers, teachers and others to quote from, re-use, parody, ‘snip’, borrow and re-mix from earlier works be reflected properly in those TPM systems and laws?
* Can or will consumers’ (and producers’) entitlements to the benefit of laws about “Fair Dealing” or “Fair Use” in Australia, the US or elsewhere be reflected properly in both TPM systems (such as the new DVD copy protection scheme) and laws surrounding copyright and TPMs?
* Should the buyers of new computers, TVs, players and other A/V or data consumer equipment expect that the new digital standards will adequately protect their interests; or will they be worse off than they are now with existing analog and hybrid signal connections and related legal provisions?
* How can the complex legal and technical issues best be brought to the attention of those whose interests will be affected?

Entry is free. Coming from off Campus? If possible please RSVP to feedback@cyberlawcentre.org.

Introduce yourself if you’re a reader!

A couple of quick links:

  1. The Senate Committee hearing transcript from yesterday is now available here
  2. My blogging colleague and friend, Andrew Leigh, posts here on the Copyright Agency Limited submissions to the Committee. His view is evident from the title of his post: ‘Time to Cut CAL‘. Well worth a read as it makes a fairly basic point: just because CAL is arguing for strong copyright doesn’t mean that its members agree with the views being put.

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