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Australia-U.S. Trade Agreement Takes First Strike 396

Posted by timothy
from the waittaminute-that-isn't-by-the-people-for-the-people dept.
inflex writes "With the recent AU-US Federal trade ageement coming into force, the first signs of what is to come have started appearing with Sony unleashing a legal bid to clamp down on previously legal mods chips in Australia."
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Australia-U.S. Trade Agreement Takes First Strike

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @03:57AM (#11951311)
    .. spread those checks for the bald eagle.

    Those FBI warnings at the start of some movies are now not a joke - a branch office will be opening soon.

    Also expect some law suits from Americans about the product you guys sell as "beer".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:11AM (#11951353)
      Yes. Next on our list of things to do is replace our Prime Minister with a speaker connected to a microphone in your US senate buildings.

      • by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:35AM (#11951599)
        I'd have moderated that one +1 Cold Hard Truth.

        If there's any Australians who still think Free Trade with the US is a good thing, just ask their largest trading partner how free trade has helped with softwood lumber [buildingonline.com], hogs [axcessnews.com], wheat [aberdeennews.com], or anything else for that matter.

        For those unfamiliar with the process:
        1. Blame Canada
        2. Impose tariff
        3. Ignore NAFTA rulings that don't support the tariff
        4. ???
        5. Profit
        NAFTA was supposed to reduce trade barriers, but has only made them much worse. Push for binding arbitration in your FTA if you can't get out of it now. They will not listen to trade commissions, they make more money collecting the tariffs than they lose paying penalties.
        • by Phil Urich (841393) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:11AM (#11951855) Journal
          And the worst part is, we're addicted to it now in Canada. So much of our trade is directly between us and the U.S. that we've become dependent on it, Canada is treated terribly unfair to the expense of Canadian producers and consumers alike, but the sheer amount of business means that the price of breaking off would be prohibitively expensive. It's an abusive relationship we've trapped ourselves in. (Though I feel a bit odd phrasing things the way I do, having dual-citizenship and all . . . the "them" and "us" tend to differ from occasion to occasion for me. I could just as easily rephrase the above as remorse over how abysmally "we" treat "them"). But, yes. The icing on the cake, of course, is that the arbitration in NAFTA invariably falls in favour of the States, so even having binding arbitration wouldn't help Canada much. I've heard it remarked that much of Australia's history is a result of trying to pretend it's part of Europe and the Western countries, while in reality it sits right alonside Asia. This may be a better way to go; ignore free trade with the states, start making use of the fact that they're within sight of Japan and China and so on. Though from all the things I can remember reading about the state of these ideas in Australia, and the current politics [kuro5hin.org], I suppose that isn't all that likely to happen. Oh well. People will realize; probably too late, though. Canada and Australia can go out for drinks and bitch to eachother about how crappy the States treat them, and then cave in again the next time the U.S. comes around.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            We in w.europe love canada, hate usa (not its people).. most of us anyway. Besides, did you have a say in all these trade agreements? No.. thus, you are entitled to bitch about it.

            An american from Seattle once said, regarding the promise of capitalism, freedom and democracy, that the idea comes down to "making the world safe for profit, using clever rules of freedom and democracy". See, for someone to make a profit, someone else has to make a loss.. they have to put in more energy than they take out, where
            • by zotz (3951) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:41AM (#11952101) Homepage Journal
              If your major contention aligns with the thought that trans-national mega corporate capitalism is wonked and needs at the least some tweaking, then I don't wan't to argue that here, perhaps never.

              "See, for someone to make a profit, someone else has to make a loss.."

              Here I think you are wrong. Here is a simple thought experiment.

              You have a green thumb but are terrible with animals. I am great with animals, but my plants always die. Rather than each of us tending our animals and our gardens, if you will do all the gardening and I will tend all the animals, we can both make a profit. Right?

              We may both end up being happier while we work as well which can be a major bonus.

              all the best,

              drew
              • by Anonymous Coward
                No, that is not profit.. that's EFFICIENCY (less loss). Or cooperation. If working with animals takes less energy than it does working with pants, or vice versa, then how is the trade fair? If nobody makes a profit!

                Haven't you had physics in class? Money, goods, food, consumption, can all be expressed in energy. Within an enclosed system, you can't make something out of nothing. Profit means you get more energy out of it than you put in. This has to come from somewhere. It comes from cheap labour people wh
            • by agbinfo (186523) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:41AM (#11952418) Journal
              Besides, did you have a say in all these trade agreements? No.. thus, you are entitled to bitch about it.
              Actually, Canadians had something to say about the free trade agreement. We voted on it during the 1988 federal election, when we elected the Mulroney gov't. The election's main focus was the free trade agreement.

              The free trade agreement changed into NAFTA when Mexico entered the picture.

              Before free trade agreement, pretty much everything sold between Canada and the US had tariffs and there was no standard way to mediate the conflicts.

              It's always easy to say that things are worst then they would be if something had been different but since there's no way to compare it's hard to actually demonstrate it.

              Personnally, I think that the fewer barriers there are to trade, the better. The FTA and NAFTA both serve that purpose. I don't see how not having these agreements would stop the US from imposing tariffs. There were plenty of those before the agreement.

      • by kisak (524062) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:35AM (#11951753) Homepage Journal
        I heard the Aussie prime minister was so far up W.'s ass that he could see the feet of Tony Bliar ...
    • by Skjie (799104) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:19AM (#11951379)
      Also expect some law suits from Americans about the product you guys sell as "beer". Unfair competition?
    • by planet-sloop (772745) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:21AM (#11951382)
      Also expect some law suits from Americans about the product you guys sell as "beer"
      Why, is an alcohol percentage greater than 2.5 too much for you?
      I've heard it makes a good substitute for heroin over in Jesusland
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:25AM (#11951574)
      Also expect some law suits from Americans about the product you guys sell as "beer".

      Yes, our scientists are already talking to the American scientific community to find out how much H20 should be added to our beer so it can comply with the Budweiser specification.
    • by slavemowgli (585321) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:32AM (#11951596) Homepage
      Wait, wait, wait. You're from the USA and complain about bad beer? You can't be serious.
  • Here we go again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @03:58AM (#11951314) Journal
    trying to outlaw technology just because it CAN be used for bad things. Without the mod chip, I wouldn't be able to import games. I don't know how me importing games is bad for Sony.
    • by tricops (635353) <tricops1111 AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:03AM (#11951333)
      Well if it's a game you can't get where you are, then no it's not really bad for them... but if it is one you could get where you are, then it hurts them because you are bypassing their region strategic pricing... (unless, of course, you get it from somewhere more expensive, but er... I'll assume not).
      • by Pofy (471469) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @10:16AM (#11952721)
        >but if it is one you could get where you are,
        >then it hurts them because you are bypassing
        >their region strategic pricing...

        And turning it into laws that you can't "hurt" companies that way is good how? This is typically the same companies that scream about free trade in the world is soooooo important. I guess it only applies for the companies, not for us nasty consumers who is only out for hurting those poor companies trying to make as much money as possible, how dare we interfer with that!
        • by tricops (635353)
          Well if you'll reread my comment, you'll notice I never said I agreed with it. I actually never said one way or the other. The OP said they didn't know how it could be bad for Sony, and I pointed out one way how it could be. Personally I do think it's largely BS...

          Although... you have to realize in some locations their income is so much lower they might not be able to pay enough for a product to even offset the full cost of production, manufacturing, and distribution, let alone enough make a company an
    • Re:Here we go again (Score:5, Interesting)

      by koreth (409849) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:13AM (#11951363)
      I agree with you, it's silly and ultimately counterproductive, like DVD region coding. However, Sony's position does have some nugget of sense to it: if there is widespread importation of a particular game, or even the perception of it, Sony will be in a weaker negotiating position when they talk terms with foreign distributors/publishers since the potential market will be smaller. The distributors can say, "Well, the rabid fans have already imported, so we won't be able to market the game at as high an initial price." Sony may have to offer deeper wholesale discounts to make it worth the distributors' while to sell to fewer people or at a lower retail price. That may equal less money in Sony's coffers (depending on whether there's enough profit from the import orders to make up the difference.)

      Whether that's what happens in real life, who knows? But it's easy to see why they might be afraid of it happening.

      • Too bad for Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:15AM (#11951541)
        "Sony will be in a weaker negotiating position when they talk terms with foreign distributors/publishers "

        So what?

        Really, I can't imagine why this is the general public's concern. I certainly can't imagine why its the job of the Australian government to make sure Sony is in the best negotiating position with local distributors.
      • by Pofy (471469) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @10:24AM (#11952795)
        So, why should Sonly be able to inport/export at will across the world but consumers should not? If they want regoin coding, why should it not also apply to their manufacturing and production for example?

        Of COURSE they want to squeeze out the most money, heck, I would say they would be even more happy if no one else would be able to seel products that would compete with them, that way they can make even more money. Even better, make it mandatory for everyone to buy everything from them, instant profit as much as they want.

        It is time to stop caring only about companies and start caring for the general consumers and the public as well.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:19AM (#11951377)
      If you don't buy your Sony games locally, you undercut Sony's ability to gouge on local game prices locally. And from what I've heard, video game companies seem to gouge on local game prices in Australia quite a bit.

      It's all about protecting corps, such as Sony, from the effects of global capitalism; market forces are bad for profits, so technological and legal barriers to their proper operation must be put in place. Modern corporatism demands that only corporations get to benefit from globalization, never consumers.
      • by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:26AM (#11951730) Journal
        If you don't buy your Sony games locally, you undercut Sony's ability to gouge on local game prices locally. And from what I've heard, video game companies seem to gouge on local game prices in Australia quite a bit.

        So what about games that will not EVER be ported to Australia? There are quite a few for PS1 that have yet to be ported (and were released in America YEARS ago). I'd say it's safe to say they won't be ported. Why can't I buy a mod chip to port those?

        Oh, and why doesn't America just make it illegal to sell stuff second-hand (I'm sure Australia will soon follow if America did)? That way Sony can price-gouge even more.
    • Re:Here we go again (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bl4nk (607569)
      "I don't know how me importing games is bad for Sony."

      Sony is worried about piracy, not you importing games. I don't see how mod-chips can be considered "technology," as you state it to be. I would call it something more along the lines of "circumvention." Don't demonize Sony for trying to prevent piracy on their console simply because their efforts hinder your ability to import games. It's unfortunate that those who import games are left out in the cold, but that's how it is. Write Sony a letter.

      Sure, So
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:33AM (#11951431)
        Write Sony a letter.

        If I am having to write letters to privately held corporations if I want to express displeasure with the laws that are being applied to me, something is very, very, very wrong.
      • Re:Here we go again (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sony is worried about piracy, not you importing games.

        Ah, so that's why every game console from Nintendo/Sega/Sony since the NES has been designed to not allow import games to run? Because they aren't worried about it?
        Sony has gone after mod-chip makers that designed their products to only play imports, and not CDR backups, as well.

        It's the same exact reason DVDs have region coding. It's profitable because it creates artificial regions. Free trade is only for businesses, not cust... erm, consumers.
    • It's called price discrimination. It also has to do with content licensing and publisher contracts. It is bad for Sony just as it would be bad for a bar in the middle of downtown not to sell their drinks for a higher price than a bar out in boom fuck. It is still bullshit though that these laws are being passed to basically put the power of the state behind price discrimination (whereas in my example it was being used to exclude price discrimination; I feel that both are wrong)...
    • Easy.

      They can sell said game in Japan, make a lot of money. Then depending on how said game does, can chose whether or not to translate and ship it to the US.

      If they decide to send it to the US, then you already owning a copy will cost them money. Never mind that you'd probably buy the US version too.

      Same thing with regioned DVDs almost. You can go to like China and buy a legit DVD of a new release for like $5 USD. Of course here they're $20-30. About surprised they don't do this BY STATE.
    • by anonicon (215837)
      John, listen closely, it's four letters and 11 words. PHBs - they don't give a flying crap if you can do something.

      In Corporate Land, the needs or desires of Slashdot-style geeks fall about ten levels of importance below the texture of the toilet paper in the corporate wash room. Until there's a consistent way to embarrass these companies and highlight these abuses in ways that will generate sufficient heat to make Sony back up, nothing's going to change to address your needs unless there are some mod chi
    • Re:Here we go again (Score:2, Interesting)

      by goober1473 (714415)
      In the UK it's actually illegal to sell an item which could be used to breach copywrite, sony have used this to stop mod chips in the UK. Next the printing press and the pencil will be banned as these could clearly brech copywrite.
      • Next the ... pencil will be banned as these could clearly brech copywrite.

        I would love to see someone sue a pencil-comapny based on that law. It would either:
        1> Result in the law being revised
        2> Result in the law being removed
        3> The person will make quite a bit of money by winning the suit.
  • crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Breakfast Pants (323698) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @03:59AM (#11951316) Journal
    Great, so these chips themselves don't violate any copyrights, they just allow you to use your console as though it were a computer. Yes you can pirate software on a computer and you pirate software on a modded console--so what? Do the manufacturer's really have a right to say that you can only use content licensed from them on a machine you bought? Hell no. Unless they make you sign a contract and that is a term, then no, this is insane.
    • Sorry... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:05AM (#11951334) Homepage
      Do the manufacturer's really have a right to say that you can only use content licensed from them on a machine you bought? Hell no. Unless they make you sign a contract and that is a term, then no, this is insane.

      I think you're confusing the way things should be with the way things actually are.

    • Re:crazy (Score:2, Interesting)

      by The Impossible (17916)
      Sure they can, just as easy as pattenting stuff the whole world knows how to produce, let you conform to licenses before you're able to read them, invade countries because 'someones says they have weapons' and be very supprised that not everybody think you're right...

      It's an imperfect world, with the US leading the way. (being lead by major corporations themselves)

      The basic principle of capitalism is making sure you have more money then the others. When this can't be achieved by creating superior goods, b
      • "When this can't be achieved by creating superior goods, buy the competition, change laws so your idea of how it should be is legal,..." --So, capitalism leads to corporations buying the laws and making the system no longer capitalistic in nature? You are melding capitalism and democracy into one big generalization. What I think would be great is if there was an establishment clause for businesses rather than just for religions. Corporate welfare is pretty ingrained in our heads as being ok at this point
        • Re:crazy (Score:2, Interesting)

          by The Impossible (17916)
          > "When this can't be achieved by creating superior goods, buy the competition, change laws so your idea of how it should be is legal,..."
          > --So, capitalism leads to corporations buying the laws and making the system no longer capitalistic in nature?

          No... capitalistic systems tend to make the democratic system corrupt.

          > You are melding capitalism and democracy into one big generalization. What I think would be great is if there was an establishment clause for businesses rather than just for relig
          • Re:crazy (Score:3, Insightful)

            I pretty much agree with everything you just said.. I don't think most of it was really in contradiction to what I said. For instance:

            > Corporate welfare is pretty ingrained in our heads as being ok at this point though.

            Yeah, but this law is protecting the companies from their own stupidity. Not to solve problems of illegal copying games.

            Corporate welfare is almost always done to protect companies from their own stupidity, or perhaps a better term: lack of competitiveness. It is almost always used
  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:00AM (#11951322) Homepage Journal
    was already given the last time. It was also nothing to do with piracy either. They had seen that SONY were creating an artificial trade barrier, why would the new law change their minds and hand a victory to SONY. Surely it cannot make that much of a difference, not when the original verdict was far more insightful than what SONY was portraying because it had nothing to do with piracy.
    • was already given the last time. It was also nothing to do with piracy either. They had seen that SONY were creating an artificial trade barrier, why would the new law change their minds and hand a victory to SONY.

      Because it used to be illegal under your old laws. Under your new laws, the Government has created the artificial trade barrier, and that's OK.

      Sucks, don't it?
  • by TelJanin (784836) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:01AM (#11951326)
    Here's the text:

    Sony in push to outflank PS2 mods
    Andrew Colley
    MARCH 15, 2005
    SONY Computer Entertainment Australia is planning a new legal bid to outlaw PlayStation modification chips following recent changes to federal copyright laws.

    The devices override copy control mechanisms Sony builds into its consoles to block the use of pirated games and DVDs encoded for players built to operate in other regions.

    Launching the Gran Turismo 4 game in Sydney last week, SCEA managing director Michael Ephraim said the company had instructed its lawyers to prepare a new court challenge to the legality of the devices.

    The case would be based on amendments to the Copyright Act flowing from the US Free Trade Agreement in January, he said.

    Sony's lawyers were preparing the case in anticipation of a High Court appeal overturning a decision in its favour, based on previous laws, handed down by the full bench of the Federal Court in July 2003.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    Mr Ephraim said "the company would take more steps to crack down on street-level piracy in the second half of the year.

    "We will wait for the outcome of the Stevens case.

    However, Mr Ephraim said, "the world has changed a lot".

    "So we will continue our fight against chipping on the PS2."

    SCEA has engaged in a long series of legal manoeuvres to outlaw the chips since 2002 when it took legal action against backyard mod chip supplier, Eddy Stevens, in the Federal Court.

    Sony asked the court to interpret parts of the Copyright Act outlawing the devices that circumvent copy protection mechanisms to include mod chips that Mr Stevens was selling.

    However, Justice Ronald Sackville ruled in favour of Mr Stevens after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission intervened in the case.

    The competition watchdog argued that Sony was using the copy control mechanism to erect artificial trade barriers between Australian consumers and overseas games and DVD markets.

    Sony eventually won its case on appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court in July 2003. However, on February 8 Mr Stevens appealed to the High Court to overturn the decision.

    Mr Stevens's legal representative, Gadens Lawyers, said the High Court had not set a date to give its decision.

  • But... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ducklord (770855) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:07AM (#11951336)
    Well, what did you expect? To come and spread the chips themselves?

    Modchips are supposed to make PS2s play homebrew software, demos and applications. Like what? The PS2Reality player, whos development was stopped when it managed to play about 60-70% of movies, at low quality and stuttering framerate? That's the best known app requiring a Modchip, and it's not any more developed.

    SONY, and all of us, know that modchips are used, as far as PS2 goes, in 99,9% of the cases for piracy. Although, yeah, I've got a modded console -for obvious reasons- we shouldn't hide behind our finger.
    • Re:But... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TLLOTS (827806)
      ...and 76% of all statistics are made up on the spot. The fact of the matter is that mod chips have legitimate uses to facilitate playing import games, a number of which are not released in Australia at all. I expect quite a number of people use it for that and that alone, of course I have no statistics to backup my statement. Nonetheless, don't lump everyone into one group just because of one potentially illegal use, or would you rather bittorrent and the internet itself be gotten rid of due to the numerou
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NoGuffCheck (746638) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:49AM (#11951474)
      I bought my PS2 in London when I was living there the past 3 years, Ive now returned (to Sydney) and want to buy and play legit games that are sold at my local stores. WTF should I buy a new console when a mod chip will do the job? I guess im the 0.01% your talking about but thats no reason I should get shafted.
      • Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't games in the UK PAL as in Australia? Why would you need to mod exactly?
        • It's region-coding, it needn't bear any resemblance to TV standards, geography, or language barriers. For example, UK/Europe and Japan are both DVD region 2, despite speaking different languages, being in different areas, and having different TV standards (Japan is NTSC). Meanwhile, Australia is region 4 despite being English-speaking/PAL/closer to Japan.

          Oh, and at least one UK-released game (Metroid 2 for GameCube, IIRC) is NTSC-only. Go figure...
    • I and my boyfriend use our modded PS2 to play games such as the japanese versions of the Final Fantasy series, Xenogears and Xenosaga (which are not otherwise available in Europe), DDR of various incarnations (which, in Europe, are replaced by the Dancing Stage series, which has a lot less quality songs) and so on.

      We also use our, legally purchased and not modified in any way (not even region-less), SONY DVD-recorder to make copies of movies, TV-shows and so on.
    • Modchips are supposed to make PS2s play homebrew software, demos and applications. Like what? The PS2Reality player, whos development was stopped when it managed to play about 60-70% of movies, at low quality and stuttering framerate? That's the best known app requiring a Modchip, and it's not any more developed.

      SONY, and all of us, know that modchips are used, as far as PS2 goes, in 99,9% of the cases for piracy. Although, yeah, I've got a modded console -for obvious reasons- we shouldn't hide behind our
  • by Thumpnugget (142707) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:09AM (#11951346)
    From the article:

    However, Justice Ronald Sackville ruled in favour of Mr Stevens after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission intervened in the case. The competition watchdog argued that Sony was using the copy control mechanism to erect artificial trade barriers between Australian consumers and overseas games and DVD markets.

    Really? No kidding? It seems to me like erecting trade barriers has been the only use of the DMCA and related copyright legislation's restriction on copy control mechanisms. DVDs and region coding/CSS, Lexmark and printer cartridges, Sony and modchips. Can someone please give me a valid instance of the DMCA's copy control mechanism clauses being invoked in a case that didn't involve keeping a potential competitor out of a specific market?
  • by Simon Garlick (104721) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:11AM (#11951351)
    o/ Advaaaaaance Americstralia Faaaaaaaair
    • o/.o/,o/_o/ o/ o/ o/ o/
      o/.o/,o/_o/ o/.o/,o/_o/
      o/.o/,o/_o/ o/.o/,o/_o/
      o/.o/,o/_o/ o/.o/,o/_o/
      o/.o/,o/_o/ o/.o/,o/_o/
      Our forces are marching general!
    • Re:all together now (Score:3, Interesting)

      by strider44 (650833)
      Though this is off the specific topic, try singing Advance Australia Fair to the following songs:

      Gilligans Island
      Auld Lang Syne
      Waltzing Matilda
      Working Class Man (look for the Adam Hills routine)
      The Darth Vadar Theme (think about it)
      Vincent
      ACDC's ThunderStruck. Funnily enough if you put in "Aussie" instead of "Thunder" and "Australia" instead of "Thunderstruck" it goes quite well.

      a million others that are either less funny or I can't remember them.

      Its got such a generic tune that it can be sung
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:11AM (#11951352)
    they'd have encapsulated the board, chips and all, with an epoxy resin coating as part of the assembly process and then assembled the case so that it breaks when disassembled (ie one way clips) instead of using screws.
  • by serps (517783) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:22AM (#11951387) Homepage

    I think anyone who's been keeping up to date with international agreements could see this coming a mile away. Australia is just the latest in a series of countries that have signed up for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States and received a bonus kick in the nuts to their copyright laws.

    As an Australian, however, it's a lot more personal. I read /. I keep up to date on stuff like this. I sent letters to all political parties about this, with little success. My problem is this: I can talk to the politicians, but in an issue such as this, which politician will stand on principles to block the copyright amendments and subject themselves to "blocking Australian jobs" and other, more emotionally-laden epithets?

    We know why the copyright amendments are in there; the USA is willing to sacrifice protectionism in a few key markets for a bigger stick on copyright. The USA wins: they get to stop the popular-but-expensive subsidies, while being popular in the electorate for their copyright stance.

    The other country, my country, thinks it's getting a good deal, but ends up with an Intellectual property deficit. The politicians don't care - they reap the political benefits now.

    Sorry for the rant. I guess it's just sour grapes - one would think that after helping the US with that crazy War on Terror thing, that we'd at least get the courtesy of lube before the big event.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      We know why the copyright amendments are in there; the USA is willing to sacrifice protectionism in a few key markets for a bigger stick on copyright. The USA wins: they get to stop the popular-but-expensive subsidies, while being popular in the electorate for their copyright stance.

      Man, I dunno about this. The copyright stance more or less is just more protectionism. Now that so many American companies are adopting business models that at some level depend on abuse of the legal system, ensuring legal sys
    • real countries don't use lube. Deal with it like the British always has, by keeping the upper lip part of the mouth, stiff.
    • Sorry for the rant. I guess it's just sour grapes - one would think that after helping the US with that crazy War on Terror thing, that we'd at least get the courtesy of lube before the big event.
      As an Australian I feel the same way. We certainly have been shafted without lube. While not all seppos can be blamed, the ones who rely entirely on income from investments are... fat bastards. Perhaps they should try working for a living.
    • by natrius (642724) * <niran@nOspam.niran.org> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:51AM (#11951486) Homepage
      The effects of reduced freedom in the realm of "intellectual property" and a starved public domain take decades to manifest themselves. The effects of a free trade agreement take a shorter time to manifest, and are much more visible to the electorate. It's clear why politicians would pass such a thing.

      The main problem with modern democracy is career politicians. In America (at least), legislators act with their main focus on getting reelected to do the same thing again. Someone who is serving their country for a guaranteed term length is less likely to pander to the electorate while harming the public good since there would be less, if anything, to gain from it. The term can either be limited or unlimited in length and still reap these benefits. Unlimited, guaranteed terms work for the American Supreme Court, and I think limited, guaranteed terms would work for legislatures. There would have to be ways to impeach them if shit hit the fan, of course.

      It's too bad that it'd be the legislatures that would have to bring this change in the first place.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:25AM (#11951401)
    Funny how this mutual trade agreement doesn't make those mod chips legal in the U.S too, isn't it?
  • And again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsroNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:33AM (#11951432) Journal
    You can tell me what i can do to my legaly purchased goods all you want ,the fact is im not going to listen if it comes into effect where i live , Its called civil disobediance .
    The fact is people buy products not licenses to use them in this case , mod chips are illegal because they potentialy could enable the use of pirate games.
    now lets look at the logic here ,
    If i am going to use an illegaly cloned game i bought at some back street store or got online , do you think i would have any qualms about also getting a modchip sent to me and installing it, the simple awnser is
    "Probbaly not ".
    Now if i wanted to modify my console to turn it into someform of server , or homebrew test kit for making my own games then i may just think twice .
    The real reason they dont want people doing this is not the piracy issue as they know that people will pirate anyway and this will only make it a tiny bit more inconveniant .
    The real reason i belive is that of two things , They profit from Games sales not hardware(thus homebrew is a problem or could potentialy be int he future , and people turning it into something else) and the fact that region encoding is not an anti piracy mesure but a way to make sure people dont benifit from better prices in difrent regions.

    TO bring out an old addage i have used many times before , Are Guns illegal as they facillitate murder which is infact the sole purpose of handguns (to kill),In most countrys Yes it is illegal for a person to own a gun but not to mod a console, In America however no .
    I wont get into the gun ownership debate , but i will say this Please have equal standerds , the same applys to P2P programs , just because they may be used to break the (civil)law , it dosn't mean they should be illegal.
    Mod chips , just as guns and Beer and bread knifes may all be used to break the law .
    They also may all be used to respectivly , Install linux on your xbox or so on ,Um cant think of one for guns ... maybe hunt... And Spread butter on your bread.
  • Aren't mod chips made and marketed in/from Hong Kong & Taiwan? How does this effect Australia?
  • by beredon (454896) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:40AM (#11951450) Homepage Journal

    ...to be part of your "land of the free".

    Sincerely, an Australian.

  • by jpiggot (800494) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:50AM (#11951482)
    In other signs of what is to come with the AU-US Federal trade agreement coming into force, actor Paul Hogan of the "Crocodile Dundee" movies has been removed to an undisclosed location and beaten to death with large stones.
  • by torpor (458) <(ten.htnys) (ta) (vyaj)> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:52AM (#11951488) Homepage Journal

    I'm Australian, but have not lived there in quite a while.

    Every time I go back, I'm disgusted by just how corporate-bitch that nation has become. I shouldn't be surprised; Australia has pretty much always been the Gimp Nation of the Western Imperialists, but stories like this just ring the bell even clearer.

    Will Australia ever change? I don't think so; I believe it is the model state for what is planned for other formerly-great nations ...
  • Damn it (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:07AM (#11951519) Homepage Journal
    The ACCC should have forced Sony to make a PS2 that had no copy control in it. They should also force the same on Xbox and DVD playing devices. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, our consumer watchdog agency intervened in the PS2 mod chipping case stating that mod chipping must be legal as without it Australians can't by games from overseas to play on our PS2. As most games are released overseas before they are released here and games are often priced hirer here than they are to import, the ACCC ruled this was an artificial trade barrier.

    They should have taken a harder stance, now we're gunna get fucked over by the stupid trade agreement.
    • Re:Damn it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by orin (113079) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:36AM (#11952366)
      That was the Alan Fells ACCC. The ACCC is under new management which is more "pro business". Expect a lot less of the Alan Fells stick up for the little guy and expect a lot more of handing the big spiky stick to corporate Australia to beat us with.

      The conservatives in .au hated the ACCC because they were interventionist and tended to want to ensure that our market didn't turn into a monopoly. The new ACCC is very friendly towards the desires of business and cares little for anyone else.
  • culture now laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by courseB (837633) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:36AM (#11951602) Homepage
    its bad enough that we spread crap media and movies to countries like australia, now we give them laws...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @05:40AM (#11951621)
    I wonder how much longer the ACCC will be around for. They keep getting in the way of the big corporations; they've stopped Telstras' (au phone company) anti-competitive activities many times, they've stopped the big oil companies price manipulation and as seen here they have gotten in the way of Sonys' region locking.

    Considering the Australian government gets donations from those big corporation and that the ACCC is funded by the government i simply cant see the organisation lasting.
    • Considering the Australian government gets donations from those big corporation and that the ACCC is funded by the government i simply cant see the organisation lasting.

      It's funny you should say that... [slashdot.org] I figure it's easier to quietly castrate the organisation than to remove it completely (that'd get all too much attention and could stir up trouble from the press/public)
  • Oh the irony! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:14AM (#11951700)
    Sony asked the court to interpret parts of the Copyright Act outlawing the devices that circumvent copy protection mechanisms to include mod chips that Mr Stevens was selling.

    However, Justice Ronald Sackville ruled in favour of Mr Stevens after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission intervened in the case.

    The competition watchdog argued that Sony was using the copy control mechanism to erect artificial trade barriers between Australian consumers and overseas games and DVD markets.

    And the new 'free trade' agreement overrides Australia's Consumer Commission to make these devices illegal.

  • by jag2k (862535) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:34AM (#11951748)
    I was under the impression that once I purchase something (be it a PS2, a torch, a computer, a book, etc) it becomes mine and I can do as I please with it. If I want to tear the book apart, I can do so. If I want to modify the torch or the computer, I can do so. But apparantly that has all changed now: modifying _MY_ PS2, containing hardware that _I_ own is no longer condoned. Does this effectively mean the company still owns the rights to the inside of the PS2? Am I not allowed to create any 'derivative works' of the hardware? I also don't like the fact that the state will assume that I am guilty purely because a corporation says I am.
    • They won't be after dudes who get their boxes chipped.

      They simply want an easily enforceable way of cracking down on people who perform PS2 modding as a service, such as the dudes who advertise in the Computer Trader or at swap meets.

      They hatesssess them :)

      I must admit the current corporate message in Australia re: copying seems a bit confused. On one hand we have Sony whinging about modchips, on the other we have hundreds of new region-free multi-dvd/video push-button-to-copy devices appearing each mont
    • Ahh, but you see, the world is changing, in a few years you will not at all own things you buy. In fact, you won't be buying things, you will only be licensing things. For each thing in your house, you will typically have a 10 page contract telling in detail how, when, why and under what other circumstances you are allowed to use it. Half your house will be stuffed with those contracts and you will spend 16 hours a day reading them. No, not the new ones, the same old ones, just to see if anything has change
  • I've seen something like this coming since they started bragging how good the free-trade agreement will be for Australia. Of course, most politicians here don't comprehend copyright, patents, and the such, since they are concentrating on the now so they get elected into office again in 3 years time. If it makes them look good, they don't care how it will affect us long term.

    I had already decided that with the PS3, I would by from Japan, I'm sick of having so many games out of my reach. Such behavior by Son
    • had already decided that with the PS3, I would by from Japan,... Such behavior by Sony only strengthens the resolve to learn Japanese.

      If they are such lousy vendors, then you should spend your cash elsewhere. Surely our right to do WTF we want with our stuff is more important than the latest version of Grand Turismo?
  • by ewe2 (47163) <ewetoo@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:47AM (#11951943) Homepage Journal

    I just wanted to make a few of things clear for the rest of you just in case you think this kind of thing is too bad to be true:

    1. The government lied and kept quiet about the stuff they thought was probably bad but were too ideologically naive to investigate.
    2. The media were lazy, lied, and believed every word the government said.
    3. The public didn't know, didn't understand, and didn't ask.

    After all that, US interests are still trying to rewrite the rules so they can dictate our pharmaceutical prices, still trying to enforce MS-only policy in our bureacracy, and still complaining that our agricultural and mining industries are over-protected. Keep an eye on our uranium deposits, for instance...

  • UK and Australia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theolein (316044) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:02AM (#11952204) Journal
    Have become part of the American Empire with the help of two very bad poieces of shit in the names of Tony "45 minutes" Blair, and Johnny boy "Keep Autralia white" Howard. I've visited both countries, and while both ARE doing well economically, it's not as if they managed to do it on their own. Their corporations look and smell like American corporations. Their media looks like it was all made in the land of the corrupt and most of their products that aren't made in china seem to come from the Empire.

    This is why I like feisty little countries like New Zealand with that weird PM of theirs who doesn't hesitate to make the Emperor know what she thinks, or places like Venezuela, with a luny President who basically spends all his time insulting the US and, because he has loads of SUV food, can get away scott free.
  • by suitepotato (863945) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @02:19PM (#11955552)
    ...doesn't grasp that once you buy the machine, it is yours to use as a doorstop, calculator, whatever you want to do with it that doesn't involve something patently illegal. Anyone think that Mitsubishi should be able to stop people from "modding" their cars?

    This would be like Apple trying to stop people from modifying their Mac to work with third party unapproved stuff... (hmmm...) Okay, bad example.

    But we would see holy hell raised over this were a motherboard manufacturer to tell you that you were forbidden to do anything with it that they didn't want you to. Or Microsoft try to tell you that you were forbidden from writing any code they didn't want running on Windows. Etc.

    BTW, you Aussies have my apologies for ever being exposed to what Americans call beer.

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