The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Some goings-on in Canberra

Via PerthNorg: only a few hours after Kevin Rudd won the Federal Labor leadership, the Liberals put out a Flash animation taking a dig at him.

Elsewhere in Federal politics, it sickens me that the Attorney-General is all self-congratulatory in a piece in the Daily Telegraph last week about the copyright reforms that were just passed by the Senate. Never mind the fact that the changes introduce new ways for content cartels (music companies, et al.) to screw consumers around, or that it’s just a patch-up job that will quickly become obsolete again — all must be well because there’s a new clause for comedians!

The amendment act (introduced a few months ago) was changed just before the vote, and Kim Weatherall offered up a thoughtful assessment:

Yes, despite the rising chorus of concern about the criminal provisions; despite the complete absence of any serious consultation process prior to these laws being released, they’ve done only a token amount to assuage people’s concerns here. They’ve removed the provisions that people were carrying on about the most – the ones that most directly affected ordinary consumers.

An example of the stupidity in the changes: they clarify a new section designed to make sure that “caching by educational institutions for efficiency purposes (proxy caching) does not infringe copyright”. This is a positive step in that it formally legalises a common practice (just like the ‘iPod exception’) but it’s also quite bizarre. The overwhelming bulk of caching is done by ISPs and by software on people’s computers, not by universities. And while the legal status of caching in this country has, to my knowledge, never been clarified, the authorities have seemed happy to accept it as a technical factor that can be ignored.

There’s an existing section that says temporary storage for the lifetime of a request is fine, which sets a precedent for the law’s spirit (if not its letter). So really, the new text should have replaced that section and made it clear that anyone’s caches can last as long as needed, or else they shouldn’t have bothered. I dare say that the section was thrown in so it can be pointed to while saying “look! we’re helping universities with these changes!”

On that note: if, as their marketing firm clearly wants, the Lib’s Flash animation were to turn into a viral promotion (which I don’t see happening, so I have no qualms linking to it ;-) ), it’d be copied. Things like screengrabs would start popping up on YouTube, people would hotlink the .swf file from various places, and desktop/phone backgrounds would be produced from the images. Naturally, none of this will be legal under the new copyright laws.

  1. Oh, fuck me, that’s a low blow. I mean the Libs have been Dirty Politics 101 since Howard’s been at the wheel, but goddamn.

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