SMH: Copyright laws under review.

SMH: Copyright laws under review.

The federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, is considering allowing consumers to freely copy films, music and photographs from one medium to another, as long as they have paid for them and the material is solely for private use.

The prospect of a “fair use” clause moved a step closer yesterday when the Federal Government announced a wide-ranging review of copyright laws.

I always thought we had “fair use” provisions in Australia. It appears not.

Google and Good Things

Scott Rosenberg: Google and the public good:

Google’s leaders are demonstrating that their corporate mission statement — ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ — is not just empty words.

… This is all such a Good Thing for the public itself that we may be inclined to overlook some of the more troubling aspects of the Google project. …

This, as Scott points out, is a big deal. His words of caution are also important to heed.

Not controversial

Tim Wu: “He�s right. Years of DMCA & term extension criticism can easily boil down to ‘not controversial.'”

Point taken: it may be controversial to some of us, but the rallying cry of opposition has been around local cultural content on national TV and the PBS, not on the copyright term extensions. I for one didn’t even think to write my local member about this – what is likely to happen? With our current government we are highly unlikely to get any traction with opposition to things like the FTA, and the opposition has largely done little to oppose the agreement at all (despite the political point scoring taking place now).

It is a silly situation, and as Tim points out in a later post, there is little reasoning behind the extension, certainly from a public interest perspective. Obviously it is commercial interests that are being looked after in such moves.

Update: Some additional discussion at Ars Technica.

P.S: My apologies to Tim Wu – I incorrectly attributed the quotes mentioned in this post to Larry Lessig, forgetting that Tim Wu is guest blogging at the moment. (Thanks to John who pointed this out in the comments)

I’m an outlaw!

Nik picked up this tidbit via SMH. This is silly – we used to have provisions in our local copyright law for copies for personal use. Where’d they go? I don’t fully trust the article – Mr Tripp’s contention that we “You own the bit of plastic and that’s it” is technically accurate, but my understanding, as a musician and consumer, you are buying a “right” to the content that is provided via the distribution mechanism that is a CD (you don’t get “ownership” – that remains with the copyright holder – but you do effectively purchase a licence to personal use of the content. This is why there is a disclaimer on CDs about not broadcasting the material – that is licensed differently. However, the implication of the SMH article is that the letter of the law does not reflect this. Something to look into further…