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Draconian Anti-Piracy Law Looms Over Australia 436

ccozan writes to tell us of a law being rushed through the Australian legislature that would criminalize great swaths of the citizenry. The Internet Industry Association of Australia is posting warning scenarios spelling out how far-reaching this law would be. From the release: "A family who holds a birthday picnic in a place of public entertainment (for example, the grounds of a zoo) and sings 'Happy Birthday' in a manner that can be heard by others, risks an infringement notice carrying a fine of up to $1,320. If they make a video recording of the event, they risk a further fine for the possession of a device for the purpose of making an infringing copy of a song... The US Free Trade Agreement does not require Australia to go down this path, and neither US nor European law contain such far-reaching measures. We are at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law — with little if any public debate."
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Draconian Anti-Piracy Law Looms Over Australia

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  • by LordPhantom ( 763327 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:07PM (#16908678)
    We at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law -- with little if any public debate.
    Simple. Greed, those who stand to benefit from it, greed.
    • It also doesn't help when we have Phillip Ruddock as our Attourney General. He turned our immigration department into a vindictive, racist, uncompassionate and unfair system.

      Now he appears to be doing the same on his vendetta against free speech and copyright.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:45PM (#16909018)
      because the kernel source says "fuck" in a few places, and there was a proposal to make it illegal to convey profanities via the internet.
    • by burntogold ( 1009363 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @10:30PM (#16909416)
      It's not about greed...

      It's about a lust for power. As a libertarian, I tend to be fair to capitalism, as long as it stays within the boundaries of good ethics.

      During the industrial revolution and earlier part of the last century, it was more simple. Your mind designed something- a lightbulb, the first radio, you produced a prototype, you hired people to produce more, and you got paid based on the value of your ideas, and the value of your products - the catch being that competetors are too. You build a mousetrap, and if they build a better one... well, the power's in the hands of the customers.

      Then we evolved mass media advertising, technology, and non-tangible goods, and things became more complicated. Market visibility becomes an issue as the marketplace becomes wider. So little people who are hardworking and make good products and want to compete start hiring the big people to help them with this... some to help them become visible, and others as a shield help to protect them legally. This becomes more and more of a corporate thing, and the little people tend to become just visible enough to get bought out, and the larger companies show off what the little companies did and say "see, we can take credit for this now." In the meantime the little company sadly, in some cases, mutates to the form of "productivity" the new parent company had: producing mostly crap, but lots of it.

      Then you get people like the RIAA, doing this for musicians or the movie industry. But with digital media becoming prevalent, they don't have as much to hold on to.

      At the billion dollar level, it's not about the few hundred thousand. It's about control. File sharing deals a blow because the most popular files are the easiest ones to find... the catch being if you want to find music by an obscure enough artist, you *have* to buy it. This eventually leads to musicians who are outside the "current realm of control" getting enough money to do things like produce videos, which gets them seen... which is a threat if they don't have a sellout pricetag. The RIAA doesn't want enough competetors joining together to produce a bigger competetor that could take them down off their high mountain.

      Good capitalism wants its competitor to have enough of a chance to make life interesting, but will work hard to beat it. This "working hard" should not involve dirty tricks or absolute control of the media outlets used to advertise, but the problem here is that the industry in question IS the media. It turns business into little more than politics, which is part of why the american system is in need of reform.

      This is all IMHO, though, since I'm neither a lawyer nor in the media.
    • by scum-e-bag ( 211846 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @10:41PM (#16909490) Homepage Journal
      Eventually it was discovered
      That God
      Did not want us to be
      All the same

      This was
      Bad News
      For the Governments of The World
      As it seemed contrary
      To the doctrine of
      Portion Controlled Servings

      Mankind must be made more uniformly
      The Future
      Was going to work

      Various ways were sought
      To bind us all together
      But, alas
      Same-ness was unenforcable

      It was about this time
      That someone
      Came up with the idea of
      Total Criminalization

      Based on the principle that
      If we were All crooks
      We could at least be uniform
      To some degree
      In the eyes of
      The Law

      Shrewdly our legislators calculated
      That most people were
      Too lazy to perform a
      Real Crime
      So new laws were manufactored
      Making it possible for anyone
      To violate them any time of the day or night,
      Once we had all broken some kind of law
      We'd all be in the same big happy club
      Right up there with the President
      The most excalted industrialists,
      And the clerical big shots
      Of all your favorite religions

      Total Criminalization
      Was the greatest idea of its time
      And was vastly popular
      Except with those people
      Who didn't want to be crooks or outlaws,

      So, of course, they had to be
      Tricked Into It ...
      Which is one of the reasons why
      Was eventually made

      --Frank Zappa (from the booklet of Joe's Garage, Acts II & III - 1979)
  • by jpardey ( 569633 ) <j_pardey@hotmail ... inus threevowels> on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:11PM (#16908714)
    If you work at a music shop, and ever get tired of bad attempts at playing "Stairway to Heaven," you can take a vacation to Australia!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "No Stairway? Denied!"
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      If you work at a music shop, and ever get tired of bad attempts at playing "Stairway to Heaven," you can take a vacation to Australia!

      Not unless you want to hear Rolf Harris or Vegemite Regae playing it!

      A few years ago a TV show got a different band in each week to play it - and I had the cassete of 20 versions of it as the only thing to play on a 1000km long road trip. I have no idea where my passenger hid it after the trip - never saw it again.

      • by mikael ( 484 )
        I remember that song... I used to use an alarm clock radio to wake up in the morning. After just about every radio station kept playing this song at least once each morning for a week, I switched over to using a CD album instead.
  • A Bridge Too Far (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:13PM (#16908742)
    You have to wonder whether those - like the RIAA and MPAA - that are pushing for ever more restrictive copyright laws are going to find that they've gone a bridge too far and wind up in a worse position than where they started. For example, I can see a day when juries will simply refuse to convict people who run afoul of laws like this, as is their right. Once that starts happening, they can buy all of the laws they want and it won't do them any good.
    • Re:A Bridge Too Far (Score:5, Informative)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:22PM (#16908848) Homepage

      For example, I can see a day when juries will simply refuse to convict people who run afoul of laws like this, as is their right.

      Jury nullification is a contentious issue, and the legality of it in many countries is my no means certain. For the U.S., for example, see Conrad's Jury Nullification [] (Carolina Academic Press, 2000) for a history that's sympathetic but which lists many of the points against. Because the matter is so polemic, it's silly to blatantly call it a "right".

      • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @10:17PM (#16909316) Journal
        Because the matter is so polemic, it's silly to blatantly call it a "right".
        It might be "silly" according to you, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a right.

        The Jury system is designed in such a way that jury nullification is inherent to the system. Nobody can prevent it, not even the Judge. The most that he can do is set aside the Jury's verdict and hold a new trial.

        It's a mixed bag for sure, as juries can allow bad people to get away with crimes, but (and I took this from Wikipedia) as "John Adams said of jurors: 'It is not only his right but also his duty... to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.'"

        So, yea, you're wrong. It is a Jury's right and if you are willing to listen to one of the founding father's, it is a Juror's duty.
        • >Nobody can prevent it, not even the Judge.

          What they can do is ask jurors during voir dire whether they'll vote to convict if that's where the facts point, and exclude from the jury anyone who intends to vote on whether they approve of the law.

          In other words, the six or twelve people deciding whether you go to jail for violating $UNJUST_LAW are either unwilling to practice jury nullification, or they're dishonest enough to lie under oath.

          If you've been called for jury duty you've heard exactly that quest
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The judge informed us that we were to base our decision on the law, the evidence and nothing else. He emphasized that last bit several times. He also explained that we may disagree with the testimony of any witness (finding it incredible or what-have-you), but we cannot disagree with the law.

      The judge said that after the jury selection was finalized, he would make all the jurors swear an oath to the effect of basing their decision on the law, the evidence, and nothing else. I got eliminated, so I didn't
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by westlake ( 615356 )
      I can see a day when juries will simply refuse to convict people who run afoul of laws like this, as is their right.

      the rights agencies usually pursue the infringer in civil court.

      in the American federal system, only 2% of tort cases are settled by a trial.

      you don't even get to ask for a jury trial in an american civil court unless there is a significant factual question remaining to be decided.

      if your defense on the facts collapses like a house of cards---
      it is within the judge's right to declare th

  • by macadamia_harold ( 947445 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:14PM (#16908754) Homepage
    Draconian Anti-Piracy Law Looms Over Australia

    Well, given that that Draco died in the 6th century BC, I doubt he'll have much luck enforcing his law.
  • I live in Australia, and well this is the first I've heard about it... kind of creepy in a way. Maybe I'll change my birthday song to "happy give me presents day". Although i don't know if this relates to another story this week (local-ish news). Apparently at concerts and events people -could0 get fined for record videos of bands on there mobile phones, strange that no-one mentioned actual digital camera's though.
  • Civil Disobedience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:20PM (#16908828)
    Well, y'all can protest the old fashioned way - get thousands of your mates to go down to Canberra and sing "happy birthday" in the halls of parliament.

    "Kid, whad'ya get?"

    I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay $1,320 and stop singing"

    He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?"

    And I said, "Singing 'Happy Birthday'"

    And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand,
    and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
    father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the

    Apologies to Arlo Guthrie.

  • I'd stand up and sing the National Anthem, but I'd probably get fined $1,320. I might just sing it to myself.

    • I think it's interesting to note, just for other Americans reading this, that were the US National Anthem subject to the same restrictions as Happy Birthday, it would only have come out of Copyright in 1913 (Key died in 1843, plus 70 years). Or if he had written it "for hire," it wouldn't have come out until 1934.

      Notwithstanding the ridiculousness of having a 'work for hire' last longer than a work by a natural person, that's a pretty long span of American history that it would have been more or less unavai
    • by n0dalus ( 807994 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:52AM (#16910420) Journal
      I'd stand up and sing the National Anthem...
      You call yourself an Australian? A real Australian would never bother learning the words to the National Anthem.
  • Truly, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_REAL_sam ( 670858 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:22PM (#16908850) Journal
    The love of money is the root of all evil.

    It's time to route the music supply AROUND the RIAA, just the same way a person would route AROUND a circuit that poses a fire hazard.

    In the long run, greed will greed itself out of existance as publically created free music replaces "go-to-jail" / "pay-the-fines" music.

    Hmm. Of course...who's working on that free music again?

  • by slightlyspacey ( 799665 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:23PM (#16908864)
    I always thought that the story of "Happy Birthday" being protected by copyright was an urban legend, up until 5 minutes ago, when I saw this article [] on Snopes. According to the article, the owner of the "Happy Birthday" copyright receives 2 million dollars annually in royalties. I'm definitely in the wrong business ...
  • Howard's a cunt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob Gelumph ( 715872 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:23PM (#16908866)
    Normally on slashdot, there are thought-provoking topics that trigger much debate and such, but it's all pretty clear in this case.
    • Re:Howard's a cunt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <> on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:51PM (#16909070)
      Please don't mod the parent down, he is totally correct in his assertion.

      Howard needs to be taken down a notch. He has been in power a long time and will probably be in power for a few more years. John Howard pulls this shit all the time, he just brings in lame laws that protect American interests and we Australians will just have to deal with it.

      Australian politics is in a bad way at the moment. Howard's liberal party holds a majority in both houses of parliament and is using this majority to make all manor of broad sweeping changes. The worst part is that the leader of the opposition is incredibly unpopular, so it seems likely that the Liberals would win in the next election anyway.

      As it stands the only way these laws, or any others, will be stopped is if a member or two crosses the floor.

      Regardless the fact is that everyone will ignore these stupid laws like they have been for the past decade.

      In summary, John Howard is indeed a cunt.
  • The expected argument will be, "Well, there's no plan to use the law like that."

    In American jurisprudence, it is an established precedent that taking it on faith that an overbroad law will not be used in an overbroad manner does not save it from challenges to Constitutionality -- that is, when the government says, "Sure, we COULD use it to arrest families singing 'Happy Birthday', but honest, we won't!", the courts say, "Try again, sucker!". How do Australian courts view the issue of overbreadth?
    • by fabs64 ( 657132 )
      That's assuming that the law is unconstitutional to begin with.
      The australian constitution doesn't have any real equivalent to the bill of rights.
  • The masses will never appreciate the fine distinctions of liberty, let the act pass and ordinary people like soccer moms be prosecuted, and then they will do something and force a very public re-examination of "intellectual property".
  • Simple Solution... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femto ( 459605 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:40PM (#16908980) Homepage

    There is a simple solution: don't have anything to do with anything whose copyright is owned by ARIA and friends.

    I've already put the word out to our extended family. No licensed products for our newborn son. Pooh Bear, Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney anything. All these trojan horses will be refused. I will allow the original books my Milne and Awdry, that's where Pooh and Thomas belong, in the books by their original authors. My son will be brought up in the knowledge that these are characters in a book, to live in his imagination, not on his lunchbox, bed sheets, or anything else. Licensed products are just too dangerous to have anything to do with.

    From this point on I aim to only listen to copylefted music. Movies and TV? I'd rather have fun making a copylefted movie than killing my brain cells and liberty with an MPAA offering.

    Maybe right after we have written to out politicians we should hold a protest in Sydney? Everyone brings their Pooh Bears and Disney characters, CDs, DVDs and we have a great big "cleansing" where we burn them in the streets and pledge to lead fruitful "copylefted lives"?

    Customers becoming ex-customers. Now that would scare ARIA. If we can do it to Microsoft we can do it to the RIAA, MPAA and ARIA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bob Gelumph ( 715872 )
      I mean this sincerely:
      If you believe that you can make any kind of difference to the masses with a move like getting people to give up licenced popular culture due to unfair IP laws, then go for it; it's a good goal, but I think you might be understating the difficulty of converting even one person just a bit.
      Do you have plans? An idea without a plan generally doesn't amount to much. How do you intend to achieve your goals? Warning friends and family that you won't accept the gifts you mentioned and then
      • by femto ( 459605 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @10:45PM (#16909522) Homepage

        I don't think I need a plan. If I do it and my position makes sense others will follow. If my position is sensible the chances are that others already have the same idea and are working in the same direction.

        By making it sound like my idea, my goals (and consequently that I must have a plan to spread it) you pay me far too much credit. I'm just on a path that thousands of people like Richard Stallman are already walking. A better description is that the actions of my government are causing my path to more closely follow the footsteps of those ahead of me.

        Over the last decade, since I first learned of GNU, I've been slowly coming to the realisation that Stallman, FSF and the GNU have got it pretty right []. This isn't about software, convenience or better models of development. It's about the philosphy [] and mind set.

        I don't have to convince others. All I have to do is let them know that there is an alternative and what that alternative is. The opponents of copyleft will see to the convincing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Eskarel ( 565631 )
          If you're walking the path of Richard Stallman, you're walking the path alone.

          RMS has a lot of really good ideas, but he is, to be perfectly honest, a raving nut job. He lives in an ideal world where there is no pragamatism, no compromise, where everyone can do what they love without having to worry about putting food on the table. He believes that because many people in the US are willing to work crap jobs for no money, that programmers should be willing to work for $35,000 a year(that's not an exaggeratio

    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @11:50PM (#16910038) Homepage Journal
      Good for you. Your solution is consistent and sensible. I much prefer it to the "They made it but I want it so I'm entitled to it" theory so pervasive on Slashdot.

      If the RIAA etc make stuff you want, they get to set the terms. The trick is not to redefine the terms but to make your own stuff.
    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:54AM (#16910438)
      Everyone brings their Pooh Bears and Disney characters, CDs, DVDs and we have a great big "cleansing" where we burn them in the streets and pledge to lead fruitful "copylefted lives"?

      There is something in this language I find chilling---and all too familiar.

      The voice of the fanatic to whom all culture is alien --- verboten --- whose creation does not meet his own standards of perfection.

      When did freedom ever come from a burning of the books?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There is something in this language I find chilling---and all too familiar.

        It's different this time (honest). This is not some protest against degenerate culture - this is a protest against corporations who own our culture in a literal sense. When nothing produced in the last 70+ years has entered the public domain unless placed there deliberately, we have a serious problem. I should be able to sing happy birthday and play old bugs bunny cartoons free of charge and also pass copies around if I so desire.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Trolly fearspeak removed

        When did freedom ever come from a burning of the books?

        When the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall came down, a huge amount of books were burned - books which the Soviet secret police had put together, detailing people's thoughts, words and deeds which were deemed a threat to that twisted state. Burning those books definitely freed many innocent people from the threat of someone using those records against them.

        Burning some Disney DVDs is surely within the rights of the owner of th

  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday November 19, 2006 @09:44PM (#16909010)
    "We at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law -- with little if any public debate."

    "Recent Government reviews have resulted in the proposed introduction of the Copyright Amendment (Exceptions, Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill in the Autumn sitting of 2006 []. The proposed new legislation will be designed to bring Australian copyright laws up to speed and implement outcomes for the 2005 reviews."

    I'm at a total loss to understand why anyone would find it difficult to uncover background on this topic...
    • Because it wasn't on the five o'clock news, I guess.
    • Seriously. Australians are probably second only to Americans in having newspapers that seldom mention other parts of the world unless they have Australian drug smugglers being tried in them or are playing sport with Australians.

      I base this sweeping generalisation on "The Age" website and the newspapers that I browse in hotels there.

      They do, however, do an amazingly good Linux conference...

      Vik :v)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dangitman ( 862676 )
        SBS News is where it's at in Australia. News reports from all around the world, and in many different languages. A very strong international focus, and top standards of journalism.
  • It's because they'll scale it back and say "how's that, now it's not as restrictive" and people will say "that's better!" even though NO ADDITIONAL LAWS are actually required!
  • But we're all going to jail!
  • The Australian Copyright Agecny has an information page critical of the proposed changes []
    Please be constructive in dealing with the copyright agency. While I may have a different agenda to theirs, they are still a helpfull organisation.
    From this document
    What can I do?
    You can submit your concerns on the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006: Exceptions and other Digital Agenda review measures directly to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constituti
  • Does the family owe royalties for the government spies tapping their mobile phones they think are turned off while they sing to their kids?

    The government needs to tax those extra royalties to pay for the hunt for Osama. The last place we'd expect to find him is at an Oz zoo singing Happy Birthday, so of course that's where we have to look. Last place after a VIP bar in Tahiti, but I'm applying for the grants to look there.
  • For so long they had a nice easy stream of cash flowing from an Australian distribution sandpit.
    Sell it in the USA, then clean up the same old film and dump it in Australia many months later.
    Video, tv, dvd's ect would get the time shift. Closed, safe, tested and a nice profit+ stream for established players.
    I think this is more the last big push by local players to get some control back.
    You want the full profit from licences,royalties go with an established player to get the full support of the bureau
  • When you people get a clue and realize that law is intended to create crime and thus criminals out of ordinary citizens who can then be controlled more easily, you'll never understand how things work.

    Just as "war is the health of the state" externally so "crime is the health of the state" internally.

    It's that simple.

    And it's always done for the benefit of a few. The "few" may change from time to time, as one group rises and another falls, but it's always a few.

    Get a clue or keep playing the same old game "f
  • We are at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law -- with little if any public debate.

    I can probably help you out there. It's called corruption. Howard's Liberals are 2nd only to Dubya's Republicans at this game. The problem is that the Liberals are much better at covering their tracks. It's a very rare occasion, eg AWB ( Australian Weapons-For-Oil scandal ), that they get caught out.

    If only Labor offered an alternative

  • "The US Free Trade Agreement does not require Australia to go down this path, and neither US nor European law contain such far reaching measures. We at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law - with little if any public debate."

    One possible explanation for laws like these are that they are encouraged by the American cartels (RIAA, MPAA) as ways to eventually extend US copyright. A major justifaction for the Copyright T []

  • We are at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law -- with little if any public debate.

    If it were me, I'd rush laws like this in, with as little roof for public debate as possible. I'd also go out of my way to make the most insanely draconian DRM measures manditory in all consumer electronics and force consumers to return/submit any and all non-drm'ed devices... why?

    Because until copyright law (and especially, copyrigh

  • Why else would we elect a dickhead like John Howard... THREE TIMES?
  • Draconian (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oyenstikker ( 536040 ) < minus punct> on Sunday November 19, 2006 @10:55PM (#16909628) Homepage Journal
    Draconian refers to overly strict punishment, not to what is restricted. Restrictions are not draconian, penalties are draconian.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie