The Null Device

Fair Use in Australia?

In Australia, taping TV programmes or ripping MP3s from purchased CDs is technically a criminal offense. Australia recently harmonised its intellectual-property laws with the United States, though without adopting the Fair Use doctrine which protects such activities; as such, Australia currently has some of the world's most draconian copyright laws. The government has issued a discussion paper on adopting fair use/fair dealing exemptions, and is soliciting comments. The possibilities include anything from US-style fair use to the right to circumvent DRM in limited circumstances (as some countries have). Keep in mind that there will be a lot of pressure from Big Copyright on the government to have no or minimal fair-use provisions, to maximise their profits (after all, if you cannot legally rip your CDs to your iPod, you're forced to buy or rent a separate (DRM-locked) copy of anything you wish to listen to on it or face the possibility of prosecution). If the government doesn't hear much demand for fair use, it might acquiesce to its corporate stakeholders' demands. As such, if you live in Australia, it is in your interest to make your opinion heard. Speak up before there are MIPI officers with handheld scanning devices patrolling public areas, doing on-the-spot copyright audits of MP3 players and issuing four-figure fines.

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