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Australians Allowed to Format Shift Media 155

Posted by Zonk
from the yay-for-rights dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Australian Federal law will now allow format shifting of media (ie:Ripping CDs to MP3s). Something long allowed under US copyright legislation, but only now coming to the Land Down Under." From the article: "Once the new laws are passed, 'format shifting' of music, newspapers and books from personal collections onto MP3 players will become legal. The new laws will also make it legal for people to tape television and radio programs for playback later, a practice currently prohibited although millions of people regularly do it. Under the current regime, millions of households a day are breaking the law when they tape a show and watch it at another time."
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Australians Allowed to Format Shift Media

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  • by Chonine (840828) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:31AM (#15328497)
    Wins like this give me hope for the reversal of some rediculous copyright restrictions here in the US.
    • While this is certainly great news for the Aussies, I don't think we can find any comfort here in the States. While current US copyright law may allow format shifting, the DMCA is being utilized to effectively nullify this fair-use of media. The legality of the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA, as it relates to fair-use, has not been truly tested in our courts (brought before the Supreme Court). Until then, the **AA will continue to try and eradicate many of the uses we have become accustomed to believ
      • by thelamecamel (561865) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:06AM (#15328591)
        And we Aussies, courtesy of the Free Trade Agreement with the US, inherit the DMCA. No-one here has ever been prosecuted for ripping CDs or taping TV. If someone was, there would be public outcry and the laws would be changed drastically. I believe no-one here has yet been prosecuted for downloading MP3s either.

        This move makes legal what everyone's already doing in order to allow the clampdown on downloading MP3s and movies. This way, if the record companies overstep the line and try to prosecute someone for ripping a CD they own, then they'll lose the case and there won't be public pressure to change the laws drastically.

        Everyone ignored the old line in the sand, so they're drawing a new one that they can get tough with.
        • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @05:53AM (#15328804)
          Exactly!

          It's the same in Britain, where a person's rights of "fair dealing" generally are not specifically enumerated but are left for the courts to determine {though I believe it's already been held that recording a TV programme is legal if your TV licence was paid up at the time of recording and you only keep it for 28 days; I don't have a citation for this, and I think this would effectively outlaw the use of DVD+R media for TV recording, but you can still buy one-time-write media so make of that what you will}.

          It certainly sounds as though this move is intended to pre-empt a court ruling. If they legalise it specifically now, they can regulate it tightly and include nasty provisions like "..... unless specifically prevented by technological measures" {clue: this gets around even the Sony rootkit [linux-live.org] and can be used to rip protected or unprotected CDs even on a computer which is already infected}. If they wait for a court case which will legalise it generally, then they can't include such measures. Theoretically, even anything not specifically allowed under this new law could still be held to constitute fair dealing anyway -- but the ease of getting away with disobeying an unjust law is dependent on the perceived injustice in the law disobeyed, and until you think about it for five minutes this does sound fair.
        • They did try to extradite one guy (It was in the news I don't remember his name), part of a "ring of pirates" they (*IAA) uncovered. So far they have been unable to get the guy out of the country despite winning their extradition case (Which is not an indication of his guilt just enough evidence *cough*bribe*cough* to make a court case)

          Australian politicians (Howard) are yet to gain absolute power like yank pollies (bush) so they would face an uproar if they really tried to enforce something as stupid as th
  • Confusion of terms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dibblah (645750) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:33AM (#15328502)
  • Now I can use my iPod with more than just the free downloads from iTMS!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...until it is declared illegal?

    I though you were supposed to be able to do format shifting and anything else as well, except that which is illegal. Seem that in Australia this is the other way around. Is this the new trend after 9/11?

    I guess we should now check the latest version of the law books before doing anything IT-related.

    A sad state of affairs :^)
    • by chrisjrn (811644) <.chrisjrn. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:51AM (#15328550) Homepage
      No... the law here previously stated that the only fair use for copying was for educational, etc. purposes... The law hadn't changed since the 1960's. The issue was that the law explicitly stated that you couldn't make copies. So, now the law has a fair use clause like the one in the States, and all is now good in the world of CD Ripping
      • It surprises me how often "Fair Use" is trotted out when it really only applies to the same circumstances here as it does there (educational, including criticism since it is informative).

        The US presumed right to copy recordings you've bought to use them elsewhere stems from the home taping act and presumably from the Betamax case.

        Wikipedia has a pretty good article on this.
    • Not every country's legal system and/or legislative traditions are exactly the same as the US. Also, even if they are near-equal, the laws in Oz could have explicitly said "you cannot format-shift or make backups".
  • On one hand, being a U.S. citizen, I'm glad to hear we aren't the absolute most backwards Western country in the world in terms of consumer rights and protections when it comes to media.

    On the other hand, the Australians may be lagging behind, but at least they're moving in the right direction. Sometimes it seems like we hit the high-water mark of consumer rights in this country, and are now starting to go the other way. That pretty much takes the fun out of all the holier-than-thou comments.

    My personal feeling is that the laws here with regards to content and media jumped the shark when they said it was illegal to decode certain satellite broadcasts. To me, this is illogical: they're beaming their transmissions onto my property. Why shouldn't I be able to put up an antenna, feed it into a receiver, and do whatever the hell I want with the resulting output? If you want to pick a particular moment when the FCC stopped being an agent of the public interest and instead became an organ of the media distribution companies, that's it. It's pretty much a direct line of descent from those rulings, to the DMCA and its anti-circumvention rules, to things yet to come like the broadcast flag. I truly believe that at some point in the future (which I doubt I'll live to see) people will look back at the early satellite TV scrambling/demodulation laws (and their enforcement) as a turning point in public policy.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The interesting history behind the copyright legislation as I understand it is the US enacted copyright law and basically stated they would refuse to trade with countries that didn't enact similar legislation.

      Australia enacted a law in response to that but codified much stricter details than the US laws.

      Stupid but true. (According to a Lawyer speaking on the subject many years ago... 12 years! YIKES!)

      I guess this is a bit of a pendulum swinging slightly. I guess the more restrictive laws would inevitably be
    • by NoMaster (142776) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:59AM (#15328702) Homepage Journal
      On the other hand, the Australians may be lagging behind, but at least they're moving in the right direction.
      You're missing something here. Admittedly it's not in the story, which is just a Sunday paper feel-good puff-piece, but it's there nonetheless.

      This is all part of the Australian Government's responsibilities under the so-called "Free Trade Agreement" signed last year. The other part - which they inexplicably fail to mention in that story, or any other currently on-line - is the introduction of DMCA-like legislation to go with it. Over the past few weeks there's been the occasional story in the media about this, mostly mentioning the benefits to Australians, but occasionally stating how the US government has been pressuring the Australian government to "align" their copyright laws with those of the US.

      Or in a few words: We're finally getting legislated "fair-use" rights - along with a DMCA.

    • If there was a way to not beam their stuff to people who weren't paying that cost the same as the current technology I'm sure they'd use it. Saying that media companies should give their work away for nothing due to the technological limitations of their broadcast equipment sounds pretty illogical to me.
      • If media companies want to broadcast something -- throwing it out into what out to be a public resource (the managed EM spectrum) -- then they should have come up with a business model that didn't require a legislative solution that reduced citizens' rights to use their equipment as they see fit, in a non-interfering manner.

        What the satellite providers did is took the public's airwaves and decided to apply the business model of a privately-owned medium (cable television) to them. Only unlike cable television, which has an argument for controlling access, satellite broadcasters do not, any more than your local VHF or UHF broadcaster should be able to say that you can only watch their channel if you own a particular brand of TV.

        The satellite TV laws made something that you can do with nothing but a receiver and a box of circuits -- equipment that can't possibly interfere with or adversely affect others reception -- illegal. People talk about drug and vice laws as creating criminals out of basically harmless people: with the laws the broadcasters have managed to get passed, you can commit a host of federal offenses just by opening up a piece of equipment (which you own) and working on it in the right way with some basic tools.

        Your post is indicative of how deeply ingrained their way of thinking has become: if a content provider wants to only deliver content to certain people, then they should only deliver it to those people. Buy the wires, buy the rights-of-way, and deliver the content. I don't particularly like the cable and telephone companies, but they at least have a solid argument for going after you when you climb up their pole and tap into their line.

        But by allowing the satellite companies to do what they've done -- basically apply a legislative solution to a technological problem, and privatize a large swath of public resources to do so -- we've opened the door to a host of laws that create crimes where there were not crimes before ("anti-circumvention," even in some cases the dissemination of information that has to do with circumvention), and we've basically ensured that the future will be filled with more locked-down content, because it's so much more profitable. Why worry about selling advertising when you can sell subscriptions (or subscriptions AND ads)? You can make money from both ends that way.

        In many cases we only allow the pay-per-use services to exist (or get started in the first place) because there are free alternatives. People shrug and tolerate pay-to-listen TV and radio, because they think they'll always have the free sources available. This is shortsighted: the business model of pay-to-listen is far more lucrative from a broadcaster's perspective, and we've seen it demonstrated that our laws gets changed to suit their whims. Free-to-air TV and radio: your days are numbered.

        That we've been brainwashed in this country (and in most of the world, apparently) into thinking that it's right for companies to broadcast signals out into the ether, via the public airwaves, and pick and choose what people on the receiving end can do with them in a non-interfering fashion. Now that to me seems illogical.
  • Um... (Score:3, Funny)

    by St0rmwarden (759530) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:53AM (#15328551)
    "Once the new laws are passed, 'format shifting' of music, newspapers and books from personal collections onto MP3 players will become legal."
    Hands up if you can read your newspaper on your MP3 player...
    • Hands up if you can read your newspaper on your MP3 player...

      In Soviet Russia, MP3 player reads newspaper to YOU.

      Hang on, that's not such a bad idea...
    • Hands up if you can read your newspaper on your MP3 player...

      I'm posting to Slashdot on my MP3 player. Does that count?

    • Re:Um... (Score:3, Funny)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      I don't know about you, but every morning I make a recording of myself reading the articles from the newspaper. I then convert these to mp3s and load them up on my iPod. This allows me to listen to the news for the day on my way to work.
  • Does it run on Linux?

    No, not a troll. If the US has allowed us to rip CD's to MP3's, how come we here in the erroneously termed Land of the Free can't even listen to said MP3's!

    Wonder if Australia has more sane software patent laws...

  • by zblack_eagle (971870) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:59AM (#15328570)
    Does that mean that I can format shift it from the internet to my HDD? :P
  • Australia! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Inoshiro (71693) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:01AM (#15328574) Homepage
    "Under the current regime, millions of households a day are breaking the law when they tape a show and watch it at another time."

    Imagine that, an entire nation composed of criminals [wikipedia.org]!

    I guess it's true; history repeats itself.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Old, tired joke that isn't funny at all.

      Australia is a nation of criminals! America is a nation of Puritans! LOLOLOLOL!!!!
      • by asifyoucare (302582) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:17AM (#15329107)
        Get over it. I'm Australian and I found it funny.

        Most Australians consider the ability to laugh at oneself to be a desirable national characteristic and, besides, we can hardly make fun of the poms, yanks, kiwis, wogs, and everyone else if we can't take a joke ourselves.

        • Some of those "nation of criminals" jokes are actually pretty funny and I think Australian culture is actually effected by that part of our heritage. However when you hear people like Bob Larson [wikipedia.org] talking about "ancestral guilt" in Australia, we know that there are some people who don't realise it is all just a funny stereotype. But I am generally happy about the 50 or 60 Americans that have a sense of humour to joke about it all they want.
          • Actually, there's more Americans with a sense of humor than that. The problem is that we're all on the run or in hiding because the current Puritan, er, I mean Republican government is trying to have us all locked up in concentration camps, er, I mean Offshore Detention Facilities for Crimes Against the Church, er, I mean State. (It's so hard to tell the difference between those last two these days.) ;)
    • That's a bootable offence, saying that.

      I'll tell Johnno, the Prime Minister, that you're out there on this Intarweb thing next time I see him down the pub. He'll tear you a new arsehole pretty quick smart with that boot of his.
  • Police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines and access and recover profits made by copyright pirates. Courts will be given powers to award larger damages payouts against internet pirates. Civil infringement proceedings will apply to copyright pirates who make electronic reproductions or copies of copyright material.

    Wheee. I have this bad image of people being sent automatic/clueless infringement notices for downloading of archive.org or from Bands' websites...infringement proceedings...

    • (Sorry - stuffed up my original post. Damn lack of post editing...)

      Police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines and access and recover profits made by copyright pirates. Courts will be given powers to award larger damages payouts against internet pirates. Civil infringement proceedings will apply to copyright pirates who make electronic reproductions or copies of copyright material.

      Wheee. I have this bad image of people being sent automatic/clueless infringement notices for downloading off archive.org or

  • Phillip Ruddock (Score:4, Interesting)

    by narkotix (576944) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:04AM (#15328582)
    Attn Gen Phillip Ruddock is the primary cause of this push. There was an article a while back in which Mr Ruddock was quoted as saying that the current laws were pointless. Strangely enough I think he got his lightbulb on his head from the fact that his kids/grandkids had ipods and they werent "legally" allowed to copy music onto them at the time - no itunes...or so the story goes.
    • Re:Phillip Ruddock (Score:3, Informative)

      by AlanS2002 (580378)
      That's certainly a supprise given Mr Ruddock's backward views on just about anything else.
    • Re:Phillip Ruddock (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ratso Baggins (516757)
      I expect that this rumour came from the young liberals or some such astroturfers, it is unlikely Ruddock is that switched on this one time. The sad fact is that we get this provision, along with the DMCA (which is new here) along with other pearls, all as a part of the [Not Quite So] Free Imperialism^H^H^H^H^H^HTrade Agreement. So while it's great to come out of the stone age with respect to fair use, when was the last time you heard of anyone being prosecuted for recording TV or radio or making tapes for t
    • Almost True. (Score:3, Informative)

      by StArSkY (128453)
      In the FTA hearings the democrats (minor party in Aus) pushed for the introduction of Fair use into to counter-balance the DMCA provisions. The recommendations presented to the government include fair-use provisions

      If you go back and read the public submissions, a large number of them were warning the government that DMCA without fair-use would unbalance the copyright laws.
  • by Marlor (643698) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:04AM (#15328583)
    ARIA has long argued that these changes will "just create loopholes for pirates". They have asserted that they would never ask for the average consumer to be prosecuted, so it didn't matter that it was illegal - a rather ridiculous argument, but one that the Government has been happy to accept up until now.

    I hope that fair use copies of CDs are made legal in the legislation as well. It would be crazy to allow people to create a copy of their music for their iPod, but not for their car CD player. I guess if this isn't allowed, I can just create an MP3 CD for my car, since that would be format shifting, and my car CD player plays MP3s fine.

    Also, I hope that the taping of TV shows isn't limited to analog copies, and that format shifting of DVDs is made legal too. It would be nice for my MythTV box to finally be legal, and for these guys' [d1.com.au] product to be legal as well.

    All in all, this seems like a decent change, apart from the extra penalties for copyright infringers that have been added to keep copyright owners happy. One nice side benefit is that the legislation will probably give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission some justification to rule against "copy controlled" CDs in the same way as they have ruled that region-locked DVD players are an unjust restriction of consumers' rights.
    • "I hope that fair use copies of CDs are made legal in the legislation as well. It would be crazy to allow people to create a copy of their music for their iPod, but not for their car CD player. I guess if this isn't allowed, I can just create an MP3 CD for my car, since that would be format shifting, and my car CD player plays MP3s fine

      Now, I'm not an expert on Australian law, but I don't believe CD to CD is "format shifting."

    • They have asserted that they would never ask for the average consumer to be prosecuted, so it didn't matter that it was illegal - a rather ridiculous argument, but one that the Government has been happy to accept up until now.
      I wonder if ARIA would also accept a law that would make the publication of music illegal if the government threw in the verbal rider that hey, "we'd never prosecute anyone for it".
    • And if you video something you have to erase it after you've watched it once.
      And you can't lend a video to a friend or family.

      All we've really done is swapped one absurd and unworkable rule for a new set of absurd and unworkable rules [smh.com.au].
  • wrong (Score:2, Informative)

    by NiroZ (964916)
    you guys got it all the wrong way round. just because it wasn't legal, doesn't mean it was enforced.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:25AM (#15328632)
    Pardon me, but according to the DMCA we are explicitly NOT allowed to format shift.

    That is what DRM is, it's an intentionally different format.

    An encrypted file is in the most basic definition a file with a unique format, nothing more, and DRM as it exists is extremely dependent on format. To shift format is to remove DRM.

    How is australia to reconcile this with their direct sellout and adoption of the DMCA through AUSFTA?
    • by mcubed (556032) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:27AM (#15328882) Homepage

      Pardon me, but according to the DMCA we are explicitly NOT allowed to format shift.

      Where did you get that idea? Under the DMCA, we are not allowed to circumvent DRM, but format shifting is fine if you aren't circumventing DRM. Ripping a CD to another digital audio format (.mp3, .ogg, etc.) is fine because most CDs don't have DRM. And many of those that do implemented it so poorly that you can still rip them without violating the DMCA. Holding down the shift key is not a prosecutable circumvention technique. OTOH, using DeCSS is.

      Michael

      • and explain to me what formats have come out since 1998 which have not had copy protection.

        I don't hear you... oh wait none have! this places the parent statement in the real of "might have been" rather than what actually is.

        everything is encumbered with DRM, or everything made since the cartels thought up the bright idea of DRM, so format shifting is for all intents and purposes illegal for every media published since the late 90's.
    • Under the DMCA, there's no restriction to format shifting unless you're removing a protection mechanism. Clearly normal CDs have no such mechanism, so there's no need to invoke the spectre of the DMCA.

      Seriously - take off that tin-foil hat for a bit.

      As for the FTA, I'd be absolutely bloody thrilled to have it go in our direction for once. Until now, it seems to be a completely US-centric way of screwing our country out of yet more money while simultaneously failing to open US markets in anything but the mos
    • Pardon me, but according to the DMCA we are explicitly NOT allowed to format shift.

      This is absolutely ridiculous! Has ANYONE (else) here on /. actually READ the DMCA?

      "This distinction was employed to assure that the public will have the continued ability to make fair use of copyrighted works. Since copying of a work may be a fair use under appropriate circumstances, section 1201 does not prohibit the act of circumvent-
      ing a technological measure that prevents copying."

  • just as we are losing our rights, they are gaining theirs. well, have still have the rights, but companies are putting in place technologies that make us violate dmca to do so. it's like putting locks on a doors of a public building that everyone is allowed to enter, but breaking the locks violate the law.
  • Come on UK Government! Enact something similar! [bbc.co.uk] And while you're at it, please make "Cliff's Law" banning crusty and offsenively-dressed performers in their late 60s from receiving royalties lest they ever think to abuse a microphone again.
  • Finally (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:24AM (#15328875) Homepage Journal
    Hurry the heck up with these laws already!

    At one place I work it is a (much hated) policy that certain digital music files are not allowed on the network. This is to protect my place of work from lawsuits. I work in a sysadmin role, and if I find any such files, I'm obligated to delete them. You can imagine how much I love it when someone needs their PC fixed, I run into a set of MP3s, and they seem to be legit (ie. a rip from one CD I've seen in their office). I have to delete them, and explain that they can't have them due to the stupid policy, that I've actually removed them, but if it were up to me I would have left them there. Argh!

    When new laws such as these are in place maybe they can ditch that ridiculous policy. It's one part I hate about my job.

    • I'm also a sysadmin, and I have the same issue. However, these laws won't make any difference, as backing up the tracks off a user's fileserver area is an unauthorised copy. You see, the user is the licensee, not the organization.

      The policy stays. Our expensive snapshot server, tape library and tapes have better things to do than take thousands of copies of non-corporae data.

      You think that the users have enough clue to delete the raw rips when they convert to MP3? Hah! At 2CDs per Gig, they add up _real_ fa
      • I'm also a sysadmin, and I have the same issue. However, these laws won't make any difference, as backing up the tracks off a user's fileserver area is an unauthorised copy. You see, the user is the licensee, not the organization.

        Can be solved by not backing up certain files or files in certain locations. Of course, this assumes that you're happy to spend the extra time implementing such a system and educating people on how to use it, which also assumes that one actually has the free time and justification
  • If you are looking for more info on Australian copyright laws try here http://www.copyright.org.au/ [copyright.org.au] Here specically for infosheet(pdfs etc) http://www.copyright.org.au/publications/infosheet s.htm [copyright.org.au] And here for mp3/cd/radio etc http://www.copyright.org.au/publications/G070.pdf [copyright.org.au] Oh, and don't forget this one - Line dancers & copyright http://www.copyright.org.au/publications/G041.pdf [copyright.org.au] :)
    • I could be a little cynical, or I might have spent too much time reading /., but I've always a been a little suspicious of the Australian Copyright Council. I can't remember the details, but about twelve months ago I was reading one of their fact sheets and it seemed to have a few inaccuracies. It certainly seemed to be about protecting rights holders at the expense of telling us what (few) rights we actually possess.

      Has anyone else had the feeling they're a little too accomodating to big business?
  • Thanks, Mr Ruddock.
    You've just given me the legal right to do something which I wouldn't have otherwise hesitated to do for a nanosecond anyway.

    This is the kind of law that gets passed by egocentric, naive politicians who assume that every unjust, unenforceable law they pass gets obeyed. Making any law regarding piracy is the practical equivalent of urinating into an oncoming cyclone; it has exactly the same degree of usefulness for what you're trying to do.
  • by rikkus-x (526844) <rik@rikkus.info> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:47AM (#15328920) Homepage
    So if it's legal to 'format shift', does that mean it's now illegal to try to prevent this with 'copy protection' mechanisms?
    • So if it's legal to 'format shift', does that mean it's now illegal to try to prevent this with 'copy protection' mechanisms?

      Almost certainly not, because there's no provision anywhere that they should make it easy. The question is whether or not it is legal to circumvent them. Our version of a consumer protection agency here in Norway have made some statements which I can only describe as "schizophrenic", because we do have the EUCD, yet at the same time we have exception for "use on common playback device
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:08AM (#15329094) Journal
    remove the laws that shouldn't have been on the books to begin with, or laws that have run their reasonable useful course.

    From another perspective when the masses are doing something regardless of the man made laws saying not to, then it is politically wise to go along so long as there are no real victims.

    In the early 1990's the Pope gave into Galileos thoughts about the earth revolving around the sun, because they were losing followers with their misguided teachings.

       
  • A former penal colony is opening up individual freedom ... while here in the United States, we are going through the criminalization of ruled-upon timeshifting and Fair Use practices.

    Interesting.

  • Better article here [blogspot.com].

    The actual draft legislation hasn't even been released, yet alone enacted, so there are a lot of grey areas.

    Format shifting is allowed, but in effect it's only for CDs/vinyl/audio cassettes. They say they'll be monitoring the situation with DVDs, so that might be legalised in a year or two (i.e., once all the cool kids are already routinely watching copies on their iPod Videos the way they play CDs now). The Q&A document explicitly says that software is excluded, so you're out of

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:11AM (#15329201)
    France had, for a very brief time, a law that even went a bit further. It even forced providers of data in a certain format to explain the format used and that you can transfer it to another.

    No week after that law went into existance, it was toppled. Now the rule says you can, unless you're circumventing some DRM (ha, ha. Comes close to "you may copy CDs, but only when there's no copy protection". But since all of them are protected...).

    In other words, I'm quite sure we'll see some heavy lobbying, followed by a reduction of this law into senselessness.
  • by oztiks (921504)
    Kazza was banned in australia because of laws pertaining to the creation of media formats. I wonder if this leaves the door to have that overturned and Kazza can begin supplying its software back on Australian shores.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Australia, we have a law system inherited from the British. This basically means laws are applied at the discretion of the court. We have a criminal offence called "going equipped to commit arson" - which means you're carrying a lighter or matches. That law hasn't been enforced for a long time, I'm not sure if it was ever enforced. In America, no doubt people would be arrested much more frequently for this crime, because in America laws are enforced until abolished.

    We live in a land where people aren
  • After all, it doesn't matter much if it's legal to format shift but you can't buy hardware or content capable of doing it.
  • Something long allowed under US copyright legislation

    What crack are you smoking? Ever since the DMCA was passed, this has been effectively outlawed in the US.

  • Since most media products don't automatically play themselves, format shifting is required. i.e. you have to shift the data from the DVD, through the player, into the TV, likely splitting out the audio along the way. Self contained hand held video games (NOT PSP or Game Boy types) and similar devices are the exception, but they're a small minority.

    To say I can shift the output of a DVD to the TV of my choice, but not to a laptop (via the hard drive) is a distinction that shouldn't automatically be deci

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