While originally promoted by the Government as a way of relaxing the arcane deficiencies of existing law - which, for example, make it illegal to record a TV show for later viewing - it is now clear that the laws would turn Australian copyright law into one of the most punitive, restrictive and regressive systems in the world.
The Attorney-General claims that exemptions will be made in the law to account for personal use. But what exemptions? Will it be legal for a teenager to rip the CD she just bought so she can play it on her iPod or her mobile? Absolutely not. These new laws will strictly define what someone can do with the media that they believe they've bought. The recording companies desperately want to sell you the same song three times - once on CD, once for your iPod, and again for your mobile. The film distributors are looking for the same deal.
Instead of moving Australian copyright law into the 21st century, where copyright holders and audiences will need as much freedom and flexibility as possible to develop new and successful financial relationships, the Government wants to freeze the nation into a model that would have worked flawlessly 25 years ago. These laws are not just an insult to the audience, they actually criminalise the audience. A restrictive copyright regime will simply produce a population with no respect for copyright.Meanwhile, it appears that, in addition to allowing easier prosecution of MP3 player owners, the new laws could outlaw search engines in Australia, by requiring them to obtain permission for each page they index.
I wonder what the chances are of the government actually cluing in and making these laws any less draconian are. Or of a future government reforming them. Sadly, since the same present-day government is handing over the Australian media to larger and more incestuous corporate oligopolies, who can then wield even more influence over who is elected, I'd say that it doesn't look good.
Sometimes I despair for my country.
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