The Australian Senate standing committee responsible for legal and copyright issues has recently completed a list of recommendations which will be taken into regard in relation to a forthcoming bill aimed to reform current Australian copyright laws per conditions set out in the recent free trade agreemeent between Australian and the US.
Below is a link to the report. My early comments are below.
I’ve been reading through the 85-page report and the part that leaped off the page for me was a section on the perceived implications for copyright infringement (as a criminal act): (from Ms Kimberlee Weatherall, pp27)
Whichever way you look at it, the harm caused by copyright infringement, while serious in some cases, is commercial, not physical; no one is permanently deprived of property or the ability to use their property by copyright infringement, and it is highly questionable whether society fundamentally condemns unknowing, unthinking infringement of copyright.
I’m glad that this point was carried into the report, since at a glance it looks like punishment for copyright infringement might (or could) in some cases be harsher than punishments for crimes relating to physical property – especially when we are talking non-commercial/non-profit uses or similar).
My principal concern is (whether they) draw the distinction between infringement for commercial use and (potential) infringement where the intention is for person (perhaps) fair use. I’m also concerned at the impact of these laws on internet content, with a specific view to how it could affect the average "person on the street".
It’s also worth noting that the list of copyright liability exclusions extends to protect Australian consumers rights’ to operate multi-region DVD players.
Since I’m only half way through reading, these are but early musings..
I guess the real issue is whether copyright offenses should carry penalties (on the spot fines, large fines or even jail terms) that exceed the punishment for crimes relating to physical property (considering that most copyright violations do not deprive the owner of physical possession).
Seriously, I think that the only provision in terms of enforcement should be related to where a person or entity is making money from violating copyright – whether that is as a commercial venture or otherwise.
In other words, taking photos at a concert should be covered by ‘fair use’ – as long as no one is profiting from the photos. Lets face it, we aren’t talking about people walking in to Telstra Stadium with a professional grade dSLR camera and tripod – nor are they trying to deprive the artist or their representatives from making money.
— Your thoughts??