The Null Device

Fair use and zero tolerance

The Australian government has agreed to legalise ripping CDs and recording TV programmes, which had been illegal since the new US-designed copyright laws, as well as introducing US-style fair-use provisions. However, it will come at a price: a zero-tolerance crackdown on file sharing on the internet:
Police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines and access and recover profits made by copyright pirates. Courts will be given powers to award larger damages payouts against internet pirates. Civil infringement proceedings will apply to copyright pirates who make electronic reproductions or copies of copyright material.
The surveillance part of it is easy enough: I once heard that in Australia, all internet connections legally have to go through points where the police may access them, and as such, cable ISPs block customers on the same access point from connecting directly to each other. (Incidentally, this was in the late 1990s, before the Homeland Security Age.) The on-the-spot fines sound trickier: will police determine, on the spot, whether a file downloaded is copyrighted, or will the act outlaw all use of file-sharing software? (The latter sounds like a very Australian majoritarian approach: given that, anecdotally, only a minority of files shared thus are licensed to be done so, the Australian thing to do would be to cut the Gordian knot of liberal free-speech handwringing and outlaw it altogether, much as they do with controversial films and video games and the proposed internet firewall.) And will the police aggressively prosecute, say, people sharing copies of long out-of-print recordings?

There are 3 comments on "Fair use and zero tolerance":

Posted by: Andrew Mon May 15 03:34:48 2006

No reporting on any clarification on the recording (and sharing) of live recordings. I'd love to see some specific statements on this "grey area".

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/ Mon May 15 09:08:15 2006

Given that a live recording is produced by the person doing the recording, wouldn't mechanical copyright go to the recorder, much as copyright on photographs belongs with photographers rather than their subjects? Of course, the copyright within the music would belong to the songwriters and/or their publishing companies, who may have something to say about it.

Posted by: Andrew Mon May 15 21:44:50 2006

The best case against live recording I've heard is actually privacy law. You're not supposed to record someone without their permission and you're definitely not allow to broadcast someone's image or voice without their permission.

However, what about this... Say a band is pro-taping (like Tenacious D for example) and they allow you upload your live recordings of their gigs to archive.org (which they do). If they cover a Beatles song, or a The Who song and that is uploaded to archive.org, what happens then?

There are many layers to live taping copyright an there arn't any solid answers. I'd like some.

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