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Pro-DRM Law May Be Coming To Australia 274

paxmaniac writes, "The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian Federal Government will soon introduce laws making it illegal to circumvent copy control 'technological prevention measures' (or TPMs). The laws will make it illegal to modchip a console, to hack a DVD player to make it multi-region, to install DVD decoders on your PC, or to circumvent DRM in any other way. From the article: 'Anyone found to have used technology to circumvent copy control TPMs will face fines of up to $6600, while those guilty of distributing enabling devices and services to others through a variety of means face imprisonment for up to five years and possible fines of $60,500.' Australia is obliged to introduce these laws as part of it's Free Trade Agreement with the USA. Gee thanks, George!"
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Pro-DRM Law May Be Coming To Australia

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  • FTA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starnix ( 636547 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:32AM (#16113309)
    Is it just me or is the US using that fucking thing to basically pass laws in other countries? The Frog is coming to a boil.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Raistlin77 ( 754120 )
      You act like this is something new...
    • Re:FTA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:47AM (#16113447) Journal
      When it was passed in the US we were told it was required for harmonization with Europe.
      • Re:FTA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zenaku ( 821866 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:55AM (#16113540)
        And it was bull, then too. The US didn't pass it to protect free trade with the EU, and Australia didn't pass it to protect free-trade with the US.

        Both passed it as a big wet blowjob for corporate interests, in the hopes that they'd leave a fifty on the nightstand.

        So just handle these laws the way we do in the US. Speak up against them, fight them in court, and vote out anyone who supports them. And since none of that will actually make a spec of difference, ignore them.

        • Re:FTA (Score:4, Insightful)

          by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @11:53AM (#16114093) Journal
          Of course it's bull, just like the coming "100 year copyright" for harmonization with Mexico will be bull. Here in the US I live in, we speak up against them and are ignored. Those who fight them in court, lose (just ask the EFF. Or bnetd or 2600). If we vote against those who support them, it's for a loser as the candidates with a chance all support the law. The fix is in, and not just in the US and OZ. Our choices are simple; obey, disobey and avoid getting caught, disobey and be bankrupted, or disobey and be jailed.
    • I was afraid this day would come! Now what are aussies going to do ? help help!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rajafarian ( 49150 )
      Is it just me or is the US using that fucking thing to basically pass laws in other countries? The Frog is coming to a boil.

      Dude, didn't you read the earlier Spamhaus story? We don't even need to pass laws in your country, 'cause we can just enforce ours there. But you know what? We have the world's largest amassment of chemical weapons, biological weapons, conventional bombs, jet fighters, aircraft carriers, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the known Universe... AND we have a credit card with bottomless p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomjen ( 839882 )
        And jet all that hardware is useless - you are losing two wars in the middle east (Afghanistan and Iraq) contemplating starting a Third (Iran), while you are spending a fortune on imported goods because the Chineese can make it so much cheaper. No I am not impressed, and if you continue this way the United States (at least its status as a superpower) will be history very, very soon.
    • The way to deal with this is to either organize like in the old union workshop days of the 20th century or to more likely come to an understanding that any one of 'our people' (defined by us) is simply not subject to any adverse consequences of not following the copyright laws. This is a difficult concept to convey because 'we' have no real political power and this is basically a politcal issue.

      But it starts with the deeply radical thought that 'we', the technological elite of the world, are
  • by tehwebguy ( 860335 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:34AM (#16113330) Homepage
    "technology prevention" is certainly what DRM does.

    "while those guilty of distributing enabling devices and services to others through a variety of means"

    you mean like.. computers?
  • Uhh.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joshetc ( 955226 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:37AM (#16113354)
    to install DVD decoders on your PC

    What is the point in a DVD-Rom if we can't decode DVDs? On top of that don't we pay the same royalties for the DVD-Roms we buy that DVD player buyers pay?

    to hack a DVD player to make it multi-region

    Even if the manufacturer makes them multi-region?

    The laws will make it illegal to modchip a console

    Isn't modchipping a console sort of like putting a turbo on your car? So making MY PURCHASED PRODUCT better is against the law?
    • Re:Uhh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:42AM (#16113411)
      1. Just because it is possible or makes sense doesn't mean it's legal. The DVD-Rom's reason to exist lies in the fact that you can use larger media than CDs to store data. Though, it would shed some new light on the "copyright fee" we pay here for DVD-ROMs (as well as pretty much all the rest we could possibly put into a computer, including mainboards and HDs), and I'd start to question these fees. If I am not allowed to do what I allegedly do, does that mean that by paying this fee I do admit that I'm a criminal?

      2. Manufacturer will be required to discontinue offering region free DVD players. Simple as that.

      3. Yes, making your purchased product better can be illegal. There are movements here to outlaw so called "chip tuning", and turbos (like nitro injectors) are not allowed altogether already.

      Yes, we're getting to the point where the vendor dictates what you may do with the product you buy. I'm really waiting now for a law that outlaws refilling bottles with tap water after you drank the original content.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ZorinLynx ( 31751 )
        There will be a HUGE uproar if they try to ban multi-region DVD players in Australia or Europe. In the US most folks don't care, because nearly everything is released here... But DVD releases in other regions are spotty and MOST DVD players in those regions are multi-region for this reason.

        The market for region 1 DVDs in Europe and such is huge. I don't think they'll go far with this law before a lot of bitching results.

        -Z
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Just because it is possible or makes sense doesn't mean it's legal

        And just because something is illegal doesn't mean it's wrong, or that you should recognize the law.
      • Re:Uhh.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by grantdh ( 72401 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @07:05PM (#16117624) Homepage Journal
        2. Manufacturer will be required to discontinue offering region free DVD players. Simple as that.

        Which is interesting as, here in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [accc.gov.au] (an independent government authority for fair competition & trade) ruled that DVD region encoding was anti-competitive a few years back. Since then, all DVD players sold in Australia must be either region free or be sold with instructions on how to unlock them.

        They even went up against SONY about mod-chipping PS2's, saying it was an Australian's right to purchase games overseas and play them on systems here.

        It's always interesting to find a government agency going up against it's own government in the courts over shit like this...

        For more info:
        ACCC comments re: region coding [accc.gov.au]

        ACCC vs SONY on PS2 modchips [accc.gov.au]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Enderandrew ( 866215 )
      I primarily use my modded XBox for emulating very old systems, and using XBoxMediaCenter. However, without a doubt, the primary use of mod chips is to pirate games. Console manufacturers sell consoles below cost with the idea that they will make the money back on games. When you pirate games, they lose out.

      So the car analogy doesn't work well.

      Honestly, what I would greatly prefer is to meet in the middle. Allow for unsigned code so indie developers, homebrew games, media center apps, emulators and the l
      • by salec ( 791463 )
        Region coding of any kind should be banned in the first place as it is a price discrimination scheme [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I have a cunning plan. I'm going to sell pipes to people for transporting water for thier baths, but every time they want to put water through those pipes, I'm going to make them pay me using a meter. And I'm not going to let the modify the meter, or get water from any one else.

        Sound like a dumb idea? It is. If the companies that make games consoles are unhappy because their stupid business model doesn't allow them to sell their console for a sensible price (read for a market driven price) and then sell the
        • I'm completely against DRM, but you have no idea what you're talking about. They're selling consoles below their cost to manufacture them. At the same time, historically no console has ever been successful in history selling for more than $400. In fact, it is only due to inflation that a $300-$400 console can be successful today. If they sold the hardware for what it was actually worth, no one would buy it.

          That is what the market has already decried.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Oh I know that no one would buy games consoles if they were priced at cost. My point is that if you are going to sell a piece of hardware you cant tell people what they can and cannot do with it. I have no objections to the selling consoles at below cost. But they cant then turn around and complain if someone modifies those consoles.

            However, trying to barstardise property law to protect this business model is totally unacceptable. If I buy something from you, and then do something with it you hadn't intende
  • by ziggyzig ( 944029 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:37AM (#16113355)
    How is this GWB's fault? I'm all for criticizing when appropriate (see laundry list of details from Gitmo to secret prisons), but the little parting shot at the end just seems inflammatory.

    FYI - Signed in 1994 [wikipedia.org]
    • the little parting shot at the end just seems inflammatory

      Shouldn't the slashdot editors at least make a concious effort to be better than CNN, CBS, and FOX?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ummm... that's the NORTH AMERICAN free trade agreement. Last time I checked, Australia is not part of North America. I believe the free trade agreement in question is this one [wikipedia.org], which came into effect in 2005.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Churla ( 936633 )
      You're obviously new around here... I'd like to welcome you to Slashdot. If you check by the registration page there should be a phamplet with the pre-requisite quick snappy responses such as..

      "I blame Bush"
      "Windows blows"
      "I can't wait for the Wii to come out"

      It's easy once you get in the hang of things.

      As for the article and topic. The question becomes will there be some measure to defeat this legislation before it becomes law there. And is this an effort by Australia to prove it's more media cartel fri
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      You linked to the wrong agreement. The older NAFTA is North American Free Trade Agreement, for Canada, US and Mexico, so it doesn't involve Australia. The New Zealand Australia Free Trade Agreement doesn't involve the US and isn't called that anymore. The agreement is the AUSFTA - Australia US Free Trade Agreement, according to the Australian Government, it was signed in 2006.

      http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us.html [dfat.gov.au]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by syrinx ( 106469 )
      Of course it's unnecessary, not to mention incorrect (as you point out with the free trade agreement, plus, our own DMCA was signed in 1998, PLUS the president can't really do much re: laws anyway, since that's congress' job... but if we can get in anti-Bush comments, who cares about facts!). But whoever this new "kdawson" editor is is even worse than the old editors when it comes to selecting stories free of flamebait. I think he specifically seeks out the stories where the submitter added some stupid comm
    • by Eccles ( 932 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @11:18AM (#16113742) Journal
      How is this GWB's fault?

      'It was not until early 2001, after the election of George W. Bush in the US and with John Howard in power in Australia, that a US-Australia FTA finally began to take shape. In April 2001, President Bush signalled his interest in pursuing an FTA with Australia provided "everything is on the table".'

      [...]

      'the text was finally agreed to in February 2004, and signed off on by Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile and [Bush appointee] US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in Washington in May 2004.'

      (Source Wikipedia, but unless you can find something to contradict, I'm going with it.)

      All Congress got to do was ratify the agreement as negotiated.

      Sorry boys, but you most definitely can blame Bush.

  • He's the one you voted for last election cause he promised interest rates wouldn't go up if you did. He lied of course, but that's what politicians do.
    • by mgblst ( 80109 )
      Little Johnny Howard, you are a scumbag.

      And what has this Free-Trade treaty with the US given us, the right to sell some more wheat. Nothing.

      You Johhny, are a joke, and a bastard. Leave my country alone.
    • by deek ( 22697 )

      He's the one you voted for last election cause he promised interest rates wouldn't go up if you did. He lied of course, but that's what politicians do.

      I'd be surprised if Howard promised this, for the plain fact that the Australian government does not directly control interest rates. The Reserve Bank does. So little Johnny could promise anything he wants, but when inflation shoots up because of overseas oil, the Reserve Bank is going to raise interest rates. The government can't do a thing about it.

      I can

      • by HuguesT ( 84078 )
        In the last Federal election, things were going very well with the Labor party, until John Howard made one little remark :

        With the labor party, interest rates will go up.

        This is it. No promises that with him rate wouldn't go up, just nice refreshers on how in the 80s when labour was in power interest rates were in the double-digit range (like everywhere else in the western world). Almost overnight labor's lead evaporated, and John Howard was elected again.

        • by fabs64 ( 657132 )
          It drives me nuts how as a large collective we are such a politically stupid country...
          How much more crap does the federal govt. get away with than states and local councils?
    • He's the one you voted for last election cause he promised interest rates wouldn't go up if you did. He lied of course, but that's what politicians do.

      Yeah. That's the reason for low voter attendance rates: people know perfectly well that whoever they vote for will turn around and screw them. What you need to get those rates up is not advertizements or slogans, but simply candidates worth voting for. This is true, more and more, for all countries with elections, not just USA (or Australia).

      Yeah, that'

      • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
        Australia has nearly 100% voter turn out.

        Did I mention that it's illegal not to vote in Australia?

  • Not that I like him (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kusand ( 597784 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:38AM (#16113367)
    But i sincerely doubt Bush had any direct effect on this law. You might want to start by being mad at Orrin Hatch and working your way through the rest of the U.S. Congress if you're going to complain.
  • laws will make it illegal to modchip a console, to hack a DVD player to make it multi-region, to install DVD decoders on your PC, or to circumvent DRM in any other way.

    These should all be legal in the confides of your own home. But what should be illegal is you trying to make money and selling your hacks/modchips.
    • Why should it be illegal? As another poster pointed out, it's just like selling modifications to your car. Modchips don't automatically imply illegal activities or copyright infringement, it could simply be a way to play the DVDs you bought while working in Japan. Selling them shouldn't be illegal because not everyone has the ability to do it themselves, yet anyone could have a valid need to use them.
    • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @11:23AM (#16113796)
      These should all be legal in the confides of your own home. But what should be illegal is you trying to make money and selling your hacks/modchips.

      No.

      As long as there is a legal use for DRM Circumvention, then the devices should be legal to sell.

      We don't throw Xerox sales reps in jail just because their technology could be used to infringe on copyright.

      Copyright law struck a balance between the rights of creators to benefit from their work and the ability of the public to benefit from the work once it was published. And it balances the Freedom of expression rights of both the original creator and those that would make use of the original work in a derivative work. The concept is fair use. Enshrining DRM into law without allowing for reliable ability to make fair use of content throws fair use out the window and undermines the foundation of copyright law. DRM lets the content producer have it both ways and effectively invalidates the time limited provisions of copyright law.

      In the US, prohibitions on DRM circumvention are unconstitutional because they violate Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 which allows congress "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"

      Anti DRM circumvention laws violate this provision, "securing for limited times", because the legal effect is to allow authors or their delegates to control copying far beyond any expiration of copyright.

      As far as I am aware the most of the challenges so far to the DMCA have focused on peripheral issues. Whereas they should be focusing on the lack of any type sunset provision for legal use of DRM. Congress certainly has the right to allow DRMs use, but if it legally and effectively prohibits copying well beyond the expiration of copyright, then the law is quite clearly unconstitutional as well as unwise.
  • Same old story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cHALiTO ( 101461 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {olahcle}> on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:40AM (#16113380) Homepage
    what.. you seriously thought FTAs were about trade and import barriers?
    They've been trying this on south america for decades. Some countries have aligned themselves with the US (chile, mexico), others refuse to accept such kind of conditions though I don't know for how long they'll be able to resist. International and Internal pressure from investment groups and the like on the governments is huge.
  • DVD de-regioning? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:43AM (#16113415)
    to hack a DVD player to make it multi-region

    You mean to say that, were I an Oz resident, I couldn't flash my DVD-drive to enable me to play my perfectly legally imported Region 1 DVDs? As a UK resident, I did exactly this so that I could get the missus a copy of Legend with the original-release Tangerine Dream soundtrack (not available in UK) as opposed to the ridiculous "director's cut" version that pollutes our senses to this day.

    Isn't this just a huge step backwards in the natural global-information-culture progression? I mean, this difficult balance between the rights of consumers and the rights of creators and retailers is getting knocked all over the place with heavy-handed laws.

    Piracy is already illegal, but there are many non-pirating practices that can make use of some of these technologies. Isn't this like throwing out the baby with the bathwater, when the bath was already drained anyway?

    • You mean to say that, were I an Oz resident, I couldn't flash my DVD-drive to enable me to play my perfectly legally imported Region 1 DVDs?

      See this comment [slashdot.org]. However, it wouldn't have been surprising if this were in fact the case; Oz has been pretty draconian in these matters all along; it's still illegal to copy your own CDs to an MP3 player, for example. (I think. It's illegal in NZ, anyway.) Not that anyone's ever been prosecuted for that ... yet.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      The law specifically doesn't cover region coding. You are free to remove that restriction, if you can. The law only covers TPMs for preventing copyright infringement, and there's a large number of exceptions for when the public good supercedes.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:52AM (#16113508)
      Believe me, I feel your pain. We only get very badly dubbed versions of movies in bad quality here if we buy a "local" region code DVD.

      But what this is about is market share and control. The distribution cartel has the world divided in certain "sectors", that pretty much correspond with the RCs. And of course, they have to pay fees to the studios according to their presumed revenues.

      Those revenues rely on you being forced to buy with them, though. If someone in, say, Europe could simply buy a DVD from the US (because it's out like a month earlier, mostly due to distribution negotiations taking a few days), the distributor in Europe is losing money. Also he would lose money because, as I said in the first paragraph, the dubbing is most of the time simply outright BAD. And I prefer to listen to it in the original anyway. So what do I do? Right. I buy it a month early in a well made box instead of a dubbed version in cardboard a month later.

      And this is what they want to avoid. Besides, the distri in the US only paid them for the distri rights in the US (and Canada, afaik). Should nobody in Europe pick it up because they didn't think there'd be a market, the Distri in the US would make a killing (and leave the studio ripped off). Also, should it against all odds become a huge seller, they can still sell the rights for distribution in Europe and make money again, because I (here in Europe) couldn't have bought it in the US (because of RC lock).

      It's all about money and market control.
    • IMDB user comments [imdb.com] suggests that it was the Tangerine Dream soundtrack used only the USA that actually spoiled things, albeit gave it a dramatic ending. However, not having had the chance to compare, I would want to see both and see for myself.
  • buh! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    in other news, australian will have to
    stop doing basic algebra. it will be
    illegal to do following:
    1+1=2.

    you may not have your computer COMPUTE
    certain code (101010010100...) so it can
    do certain(*) tasks.
    sheesh ...

    (*)example: understand/read a DVD from a
    different region.

  • and there's other exceptions, including interoperability and security testing.

    Be nice if the SMH actually bothered to link to the drafts [ag.gov.au]. What is it with newspapers, they seem to think the level of detail you would read on a dead tree is applicable to an internet audience.
    • We've got those interoperability and security testing exceptions in the US, too. They're carefully written to be practically useless but to make the law appear more reasonable. It's a good thing the U.S. Code isn't copyrighted or this thing would be a serious violation...
  • by w33t ( 978574 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:44AM (#16113430) Homepage
    I wonder if some day in the (hopefully not too) far future DRM and similar laws restricting the distribution of information will be looked upon in the same light as we now look upon the Catholic Church's order to Galileo to cease teaching the heretical notion of heliocentrism.
  • Here's a web site about the agreement:

    http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us.html [dfat.gov.au]
  • I guess you could relate this to making picking bank vault locks illegal, when in fact it's the 'stealing money' part that's illegal.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 )
    Now do you believe me when i called the WTO one of the most dangerous things on the planet?

  • Don't you mean GOING to Australia? ;)
  • by mengel ( 13619 ) <mengel.users@sourceforge@net> on Friday September 15, 2006 @11:20AM (#16113760) Homepage Journal
    ... its a "playback prevention" mechanism. You can copy DVD's, etc. all you want and the mechanism doesn't mind. It will play exact copies of the media just as well as originals, and it makes no difference.

    It just controls where/when you can play a DVD. That is, it is a play control mechanism, not a copy control mechanism.

    So as long as they only outlawed circumventing copy-protection mechanisms, they haven't actually affected DRM. The MPAA rhetoric basically comes back and bites them here -- by lying about what the issue is, they get a law that doesn't actually do what they want.

    • Do you honestly think that even matters in the least? No, it probably doesn't. You'll still be charged, and fined / jailed.

      Unless of course, you are very wealthy. Then you may be able to buy some "justice."

      That is just the modern way of things.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @11:33AM (#16113890) Journal
    Australia is obliged to introduce these laws as part of it's Free Trade Agreement with the USA. Gee thanks, George!"

    Well, it only makes sense that in order to make free trade, the involved parties should stop their customers from using the purchased goods freely, right?
  • Why blame George? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SirAnodos ( 463311 )
    Who signed off on the DMCA? [wikipedia.org] This whole mess is on both sides of the isle, and it isn't going to change until we people show the government who they are supposed to be working for. Right now, they think they work for lobbying industries such as RIAA, MPAA, etc.
  • > The laws will make it illegal to modchip a console, to hack a DVD player to make it multi-region,

    So if I, hypothetically mind you, recently helped my Aussie in-laws to find the region unlock code on their DVD remote so they could watch some shows which were legally purchased (and only available) in America, then if/when this law passes will they get sent to Gitmo??
  • Don't most DVD players have multi-region built in these days? It's not so much a hack as enabling it. For example I bought a cheap DIVX DVD player:

    Roadstar 2501X
    http://www.dealclick.co.uk/product/10902501/Roads t ar-DVD-2501X.php [dealclick.co.uk]
    To enable multi region these are the steps:
    1. Power off your DVD player
    2. Power on your DVD player
    3. Press the Open button on your remote control to open the drive tray
    4. Press the 1 button on your remote control
    5. Press the 0 button on your remote control
    6. Press the 3 button on your remo
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 )
      I really admire the New Zealand government for consistantly having the backbone to stand up for what is "right" the heavyweight nations. They have a long tradition of doing this whereas Australia has started to get a reputation for folding when the USA starts throwing their economic/military weight around.

      Examples:
      +Anti-Nuclear policy - 1985 refused nuclear powered and armed ships access to their ports


      I agree with everything else you said, but what's wrong with nuclear-powered ships? I can
  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @12:55PM (#16114627)
    Blinding blaming Bush for everything our Goverment does gets old after a while. The DMCA was done in 1998, yet Bush has been blamed for that. EUCA (European DMCA) was done based on a trade agreement of 1996 by the WIPO.

    We made a Free trade agreement with Australia that effectively says you must conformed to the decisions of this group. Remember that President Bush didn't write this all himself, he didn't sign this law himself. Australian goverment and our own congress approved this law too, John Kerry was also a huge supporter (supposidly).

    But continue to call on Bush alone as if no one else but him did any of this.
  • They're obliged to introduce it, due to fair trade agreements... but are they obliged to PASS it?

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