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Australia Government Your Rights Online

Australia To Review Copyright Fair Use 87

New submitter freddienumber13 writes "The Australian Government has announced a review of the copyright act to look at the provisions of fair use and exceptions with a view towards considering whether or not the law has kept pace with technology and thus if further provisions are required to ensure the act remains relevant and effective." Don't hold your breath; the committee has until November 30th, 2013 to create their report. Maybe Australians will see their Fair Use rights expanded in a time when it's in fashion to expand copyright protections.
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Australia To Review Copyright Fair Use

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  • by Omega Hacker ( 6676 ) <omega&omegacs,net> on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:31PM (#40522855)

    Maybe Australians will see their Fair Use rights expanded in a time when it's in fashion to expand copyright protections.

    After spraying my keyboard with Pepsi, I honestly couldn't stop laughing....

    Good luck with that.

    • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) * on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:44PM (#40523247)

      Good luck with that.

      You're new to this government thing, aren't you? In all the decades you have been reading ALRC reports, or the reports of other government appointed inquiries for that matter, when have you ever read "everything is OK as it is, and we have no recommendations?"

      Read between the lines of the terms of reference. The ALRC has been asked to "to consider whether existing exceptions are appropriate and whether further exceptions should recognise fair use of copyright material ..." Are existing exceptions anywhere near appropriate, say in ensuring "fair use" such as it might be understood in the US? ALRC is going to have hard time answering that in the affirmative! The further exceptions they are being asked to devise should you know. And they will ...

      This is another step towards harmonising our law with that of the US and for a change from all the punitive harmonisations, this will introduce some small measure of freedom. It is well known that the government has for some time wanted to introduce some kind of fair use provision into Australian copyright law. Just don't expect an overly broad one.

      • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

        Why even consider harmonizing with US law? Ours is restrictive enough as it is and thsoe with money are doing their best to make them even more so.

        • It's not harmonizing. The game is leapfrog.

          Country A has stricter copyright provisions than Country B.
          Trade group in Country B: "Oh no. We're going out of business immediately unless we get copyright provisions at least as good as Country A. Better give a little extra just to make sure we can stay in business."
          Wait 5 minutes after the law passes.
          Trade group in Country A: "Oh no. We're going out of business immediately unless we get copyright provisions at least as good as Country B. Better give a littl

        • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) * on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @01:09AM (#40524257)

          Why even consider harmonizing with US law?

          You're harmonising [sic] with US spelling, why do you expect the law to remain immune?

          Seriously though, the reason is the net. The late C20th and early C21st has seen IP law move into 2 related directions. Firstly attempts to reduce the risk digital communications pose to IP holders and the concomitant internationalisation of the Law. Given the position of the US as the world's major content creator (Silicon valley and Hollywood) and the decline of their "hard" manufacturing sector, it is unsurprising that (after a century of isolating themselves from the international IP scene) they have sought most vigorously to establish a regime which protects the value of their exports.

          The code apocryphally dreamt up in the legal depts. of your Disneys, passed onto US negotiators at the WTO has been incorporated via instruments such as TRIPS, into the municipal law of WTO member countries. Thus similar provisions to those found the in the US DMCA, were incorporated into our copyright law via the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000 (C'th). Nor were these the last. Such is the price of membership and we are not about to drop out of the WTO any time soon..

          Having imported many of the new restrictions, it is thought we ought also to access a few of the liberties. However, the decision to devise "fair use" exception must also be understood in the context of facilitating international business. Take the concrete example of some US based vendor who incorporates what is there allowable fair use content into a product which could be sold also in Australia. The dangers posed by a non-harmonised legal framework poses for such transactions ought to be obvious.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          It's a price of a "free trade" agreement that doesn't let us sell you any sugar, steel, wheat or beef until 2030, and makes it no more easy to sell you any other goods and services than before it was signed. It's a dud deal signed while the clock was running out and an idiot called Vale had to come home with something or admit failure.
          So it's the price of keeping a promise.
      • Once a country has codiifed 'fair use' and established some basics, it actually becomes easier to lobby to expand those basics. Not really spelling out what counts as even minimal fair use makes it hard to change things for better or worse, and when a related area such as infringement law gets more codifed, it tends to drive the uncodified area into that pesky 'for worse' category just as a side effect. Just think of how much less abusive U.S. law would be if we had a lot of fair use exceptions spelled out

    • This is an independent ALRC review, not a Senate committee or something. The ALRC has a long history of liberalising laws where it's appropriate to do so and where other jurisdictions are making moves in that direction. I think your derision of the process is premature.

      Either way though it will be a long time before we see any actual change. The ALRC reviews usually only take a year or so, but getting the government to actually enact any of their recommendations is another thing. For instance, the ALRC revi

    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @04:46AM (#40525069)

      Maybe Australians will see their Fair Use rights expanded in a time when it's in fashion to expand copyright protections.

      After spraying my keyboard with Pepsi, I honestly couldn't stop laughing....

      Good luck with that.

      Yes, Pepsi is hideous, you are right to spit that out but good luck with your laughing issue as well.

    • by shione ( 666388 )

      Australia should take note of what the EU courts have just handed down and irrevocably allow the sale of second hand software. []

      Secondly it can bring back the right to photocopy up to 5% of a book/article for educational purposes. It usedto shit me off to no end hearing lecturers say they found some good content but couldn't give it to us because it exceeded the copying allowance.

      Change the rule back to "plus 50"

  • by balzi ( 244602 ) <matthew@ a w m a .> on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:35PM (#40522881)

    After what seems like years of having Europe and America laugh at our foolish ISP filtering proposals, our crazy tech and content prices, maybe... just maybe, we will lead the way and have everyone cheer us instead.

    Aussie aussie aussie, free! free! free!

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      Aussie aussie aussie, free! free! free!

      Huh? After Europe opposed ACTA (and Australia signed it [] without a blink) you still cheer for Australia? (maybe you should change the tone to a "booo" and let the politicians know about it).

      I would suggest you to stay tuned on the next step, which is TPP [] - also negotiated in secret, with a higher potential to damage the "free! free! free!". Maybe you'd feel opposed to it? If positive, let me point you to a petition to be signed [] (backed, among others, by EFF).

  • Is that so? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:39PM (#40522913)

    Considering past news coming from Australia, I wouldn't be surprised if Fair Use became even more restricted after the review.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Strictly speaking, we don't have Fair Use at all over here.
      It's been a while since I read it all in detail, but we've only got very limited exemptions for legal, review and academic use. You can present a copyrighted piece and have it entered in court records if it's relevant to a trial, and you can have limited excerpts for review and academic purposes. I forget the precise amounts, we just said "no more than 10%" which was enough to keep anyone from hassling us. What we used to have instead of Fair Use wa

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

        On the upside, since the 2006 changes it's now legal to record stuff off TV and put music onto your iPod.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      Considering past news coming from Australia, I wouldn't be surprised if Fair Use became even more restricted after the review.

      Highly likely given the TPP negotiations [] context. Please, do sign a petition [].

  • by k(wi)r(kipedia) ( 2648849 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:40PM (#40522917)
    The file-sharing issue aside, I believe copyrights shouldn't be used like patents on ideas, where mere similarity in plot, character or overall design becomes grounds for suing the developer of another work. For instance, fanfiction should be legalised, where there's a clear distinction between the author of the original work and the author of the derivative.
    • On the subject of fanfiction, I saw a post in another thread (ages ago) that had a really good way of fixing this problem. As the author, release a CC-BY-NC-SA licenced "universe bible" that is specifically built to allow fanfiction. As long as your fans publish whatever they write as a derivative of that document and license it under the CC-BY-NC-SA licence, then they're legally protected. Even if the author goes all Lucas on them.

      I'm drafting something like that for my own novels, but I've been snowed und

        • Rule 34/slashfiction/etc is legally protected assuming it's licensed correctly.

          I want to be very clear about that point. I don't necessary have to agree with, or like, whatever someone writes using that document. That's the whole point.

          Anyone who uses it does *not* need my approval and even my explicit disapproval will not remove their protection, again, assuming they're following the licence correctly.

      • I'd put some thought into this a while back. Here's my solution:

        Create a fanfiction license. As long as it is not-for-profit (with a specific exemption for "posted on a site that has ads"), the fanfic author makes no claims of copyright/trademark ownership of the original characters and whatnot, and agrees to indemnify the original authors in any lawsuit over the fanfic, the fanfic author can obtain a license, at no cost, to use any trademarked or copyrighted material associated with the original work.


    • I don't know, I think there should be a reasonable protection for authors and their worlds/characters. For instance, Rowlings should be able to publish her Harry Potter series, without other authors spewing out "Harry Potter and the ...." knockoffs between books in order to capitalize on her work. Although I agree copyright shouldn't be used for those purposes - the correct tool, I think, is a trademark.

      And I imagine it'd be pretty easy for a piece of fan fiction, which is generally distributed for free, di

    • Back in the 90s when Star Trek DS9 and Babylon 5 were going head-to-head in the syndication market, their respective companies handled fanfiction and sites VERY differently:

      - Paramount issued cease-and-desist letters to webowners and fans (else they would be prosecuted).

      - Meanwhile PTEN (offshoot of Warner Bros) asked JMS how he thought fans of Babylon 5 should be handled. They decided fans would be free to use B5 images and characters, so long as a copyright notice was immediately underneath or ahead of t

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

        On another note: It seems studios have no qualms about stealing ideas from others. Ever notice how many movies/TV shows arrive, in the same year, with the same concept? DS9/B5. Armageddon/Deep Impact, The Illusionist/Prestige, ANTZ/A Bug's Life, Mission to Mars/Red Planet, Dante's Peak/Volcano.

        It makes it hell on those of us who confuse them. "Let's go see the meteor movie" "The Bruce Willis one, or the other one" And I still don't know anyone who can tell Mission to Mars and Red Planet apart from name alone. I've managed to convince more than one person that Mission to Mars stars Val. And wasn't the Ice Cube/Natasha Henstridge Ghosts of Mars also right about the same time? One ET (Abyss wannabe), one survival movie more about a feral robot than anything else, and one video game-esq movie.

    • Let's get the misconceptions out of the way, then, with a short lecture on copyright law. IANAL, but I've done the research repeatedly over the past few decades. I apologize in advance for the length of the post.

      Copyrights (like patents) are not broad prohibition against anything kinda-sorta similar. You cannot have copyright protection on an overall plot, plot elements, or even the exact progression of events for characters with specific personalities.

      What is copyrighted is the exact creative work, and its

      • Mod parent up.

        While I don't agree on all points, his or her 12-paragraph explanation made more sense than my one-paragraph rant. I quote:

        What is copyrighted is the exact creative work, and its marketability.

  • Yeah, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:06PM (#40523055)

    As an Australian and as a rights holder (who supports CC, fair use, fanfiction, parody/satire, etc) who sees the constant encroachment of the MPAA/RIAA/etc into our legal system, this is only going one way.

    Away from expanding Fair Use. Which is a shame.

    • Away from expanding Fair Use. Which is a shame.

      Considering that now publications are now going digital and over the next 30 years we will see a lot of new literature published to digital media that won't be available to print, I'd say it's downright dangerous not to expand Fair Use to protect the availability of literature in digital formats.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      Away from expanding Fair Use. Which is a shame.

      Agreed [] - have a look on the entire context. Please sign an EFF backed petition []

  • ya right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:54PM (#40523319)
    How much do you want to bet their conclusions are that "Fair use" is an outdated concept and should be eliminated all together? Seems like a far more likely outcome than anything beneficial.
  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:10PM (#40523415) that's balking at climate change, grudgingly promising not stop the National Broadband Network roll out and is portraying gays and dark people asmythical job-stealing closet monsters. So while they're dragging us back to the dark ages, I can totally see them siding with a progressive view of 'fair use'.

    More than likely they'll be sticking anyone caught torrenting in the stocks while dirty faced children throw vegetables at them.

  • by CanEHdian ( 1098955 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @12:07AM (#40523925)

    the committee has until November 30th, 2013 to create their report.

    The scope of the inquiry will include the impact of legislative solutions and their consistency with Australia’s international obligations and government reviews and their recommendations, such as the Convergence Review.

    Just in time for ACTA (without the EU) and TPP to be finalized. How convenient.

  • How do I get to this universe of yours? Sounds like a lovely place.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham