[Linux-aus] Linux Australia FTA Position Draft Paper

Anthony Towns aj at azure.humbug.org.au
Tue Apr 6 00:14:02 UTC 2004

On Mon, Apr 05, 2004 at 09:13:43PM +1000, Rusty Russell wrote:
> We'll be following up with more stuff during the week as we get things
> rolling: submissions to the Senate FTA committee close on 30 Apr.
>         http://linux.org.au/papers/fta-paper.pdf

Further to this, there's some interesting stuff from Kim Weatherall on
the topic:


  ``The Federal Government is seeking submissions opposing
    the Intellectual Property aspects of the US-Free Trade Agreement.
    Submissions are required by the 13th of April 2004.'' -- Copyright Office

(submissions supporting the IP aspects aren't desired/expected, apparently)

Also from that URL is the point that public hearings will be happening around
the country. The schedule's at:


The week of 19th-23rd of this month (ie, the week after next) has meetings
in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth; 3rd-6th May has meetings
in Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney. The tour finishes in Canberra
on the 14th of May.


  The other point that this IFAC-3 report really makes clear is, if this
  agreement goes through, the negotiation of the agreement is not an end,
  but only a beginning of US interference in Australian IP law-making. One
  of the points that Australian IP negotiator, Stephen Fox was arguing
  after the Agreement was made was that critics should carefully read
  the text and notice all the flexibility built into the language of
  the agreement - flexibility which, he asserted, meant that Australia
  did not have to mirror US law.

(in response to a report by a US private sector advisory ctte that
comments on the IP bits of the FTA)

If you haven't already written to your local Federal MP, National,
Labor or Liberal or whatever, it's probably worth doing so, even if
you can only express your concerns or point to LA's stuff rather than
providing arguments of your own. If you don't know what to write, a good
start might be to indicate what sort of Linux/open source stuff you're
doing, or other folks in the same area/electorate are doing, and just
talk about what stuff you're concerned about. Some things to think about:

	* Open source software to play DVDs is a circumvention device,
	  banning the distribution of that software, or banning even
	  the _use_ of that software doesn't stop copying it stops people
	  developing things like http://www.d1.com.au/hmc/

	* According to the Australian Copyright Council, in their January
	  2004 information sheet G25, "generally it is /not/ legal to tape
	  from TV without permission from the owners of copyright in the
	  material copied, even if the copy is made only for private use."
	  http://www.copyright.org.au/PDF/InfoSheets/G025.pdf [0]

	* According to the same group, its illegal to make backups
	  of music CDs or to make compilation tapes or CDs of music you
	  own for private use. That's from info sheet G70, which seems to
	  be pre-iPod. http://www.copyright.org.au/PDF/InfoSheets/G070.pdf

	* If you followed the Eldred case, you might like to ask if
	  copyright lengths are going to be increased to life+70 years,
	  from life+50 years; why they should be increased for existing
	  works, which we already have access to and which were already
	  created, rather than only new works.

There are plenty of other concerns raised by the FTA's IP section
too: you may like to consider the risks of "takedown" notices
forcing ISPs to delete their customers' data, or the risk of the
"guilty-until-proven-innocent" philosophy they apply to copyright
infringement. You might like to consider the effect of various patents
on your favourite free software projects, or even your favourite non-free
projects. You might like to bring stuff like the Baen Books Free Library
or the Creative Commons to your representatives' attention to demonstrate
how weakened IP protection can produce good economic outcomes -- more
interest in a work, and more people paying for it; more new works created
since it's easier to "stand on the shoulders of giants" by reusing good
bits of old works.

If you don't want to write to your MP, consider writing to one of your
senators. If you don't want to do that, consider making a submission
to the Joint Senate/HoR Committee on Treaties. If you don't feel up to
writing something on your own, confer with some friends, or help your
LUG write a submission. Once you've written something, get some of your
friends or acquaintances to write stuff too. LA's submissions and fact
sheets and whatever else will try to cover all the bases in a coherent and
rational manner, but the only way that any of that'll matter is if it's
clearly representing the interests of a whole bunch of Australian voters.

So the question is: is it? Do you care about these things? Do you
want your representatives in Canberra to listen to Rusty's arguments
and suggestions, or the arguments of other Australian free software
developers? If you do, make sure your MP knows, not just your friends.

We might or we mightn't win on the FTA, and any wins we end up with
anytime soon will probably be qualified ones at best, but if we're /ever/
going to win on these sorts of issues, we do need to start getting
some practice talking about them with the people who'll end up making
the decisions.

aj, hoping this is useful to someone

[0] The ACC is referenced from the Attorney General dept's website
    for people looking for more info about copyright [1]. They're a
    private organisation, not a government one though, so they can be
    wrong in the above legally speaking; but then they could be right
    too. Do we want the law to be unclear on this topic, or the Attorney
    General's dept to be pointing people to advice that says taping any
    TV show is illegal without permission?

[1] http://www.ag.gov.au/ -> Portfolio Responsibilities -> Copyright
    or http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agdHome.nsf/HeadingPagesDisplay/Copyright?OpenDocument

Anthony Towns <aj at humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

             Linux.conf.au 2004 -- Because we could.
           http://conf.linux.org.au/ -- Jan 12-17, 2004
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