Hard News by Russell Brown


Music in Parks

A little follow-up from yesterday. Mr D. Dobbyn of the parish of Grey Lynn, responding to Murray McCully's tacky little burp about an alleged insult to the Queen by dint of the performance of his song 'Welcome Home', advises that: "The Queen officially approved my lyrics ahead of the honourable memorial engagement."

And might I say that ma'am showed notable good taste in doing so.

Perhaps Mr McCully could apologise and try and make sure he knows what he's on about the next time he takes a cheap shot.

I could also add that Dave said: "We should build the best stadium in the world - per capita - with the highest values in architecture, art and technology. The alternative is deeply boring." But I'm trying not to mention the stadium …

Meanwhile, the Australians have popped out another one of their interesting digital laws: this time, copyright legislation that appears to radically lower the bar for criminal prosecution of ordinary people doing ordinary things via a new "strict liability" standard.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald, head of the Queensland University of Technology's school of law, says it's "a fundamental reshaping of consumer law through the guise of copyright," and amounts to the "criminalisation of copyright infringement." And the Australian Internet Industry Association is very loudly sounding the alarm. Similar unease on Slashdot, as you would expect.

Ironically, one aim of the new law was to create an exemption for format-shifting of music, so you're not breaking the law by loading your iPod. Which it does - really badly. If you rip legitimately purchased CDs into iTunes and then listen to them on your iPod, you're for it:

Section 132AL(2) of the bill provides that a person commits an "indictable offence" if they possess "a device, intending it to be used for making an infringing copy of a work or other subject-matter".

This is the most serious offence for an individual technology user, as it means they've intentionally broken copyright law. It is subject to a penalty of five years in jail, a fine of up to $65,000, or both.


Other forms of unconscionable criminal behaviour to fall under this law include the despicable practice of 12 year-old girls recording video karaoke clips in their bedroom and putting them on YouTube. Singing in parks might be a bit risky too.

One interesting difference from official thinking (as expressed in MED position papers) in New Zealand, and what the Australian government has sprung is the attitude towards Technical Protection Measures. If you bypass a TPM merely to gain access - rather than to illicitly copy or distribute - the MED ain't too bothered. In Australia, it's a bad thing. They can say goodbye to their region-free DVD players if this goes through.

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