Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper

I seriously love my friends. They’re a varied crew, all interested in a huge range of subjects. There is one common thread, however. They’re almost all into what is right.

I recently received this email from a friend in regards to a conversation underway about an online copyright infringement discussion paper. As it is a subject rather close to my heart, I thought I would share its contents with you. It is from the Australian Digital Alliance.

It continues to be an exciting year for copyright in Australia! Of particular note is the government’s request for feedback on its proposals on online copyright infringement which are due on 1 September 2014.

Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper

The government recently released a discussion paper aimed at reducing online copyright infringement.  The paper had three main proposals:

  • Extend authorisation liability;
  • Provide a new injunctive process to block overseas websites whose dominant purpose is to infringe copyright; and
  • Extend the safe harbours to a wider class of intermediaries (including schools and universities).

We have a quick overview of the proposals and have blogged some preliminary responses to the proposal to extend authorisation liability.  While this measure is directed ISPs, it is not restricted to ISPs, meaning that the changes will impact on other intermediaries such as schools, libraries, online platforms and universities.  In particular we are concerned that:

  • It will increase legal risk
  • It will increase legal uncertainty
  • It will encourage reliance on the safe harbours, including the requirement for an implemented policy for disconnection of repeat infringers
  • It will put Australia at odds with international norms

We have commissioned Dr Rebecca Giblin to write a paper that examining the effects on intermediaries and also do a comparative analysis of the forms of secondary liability with other core jurisdictions.

We will of course be putting in a submission, and would encourage others to do the same.  EFA has put together some consumer facing materials that may be useful and CHOICE is asking for consumer stories about access to content.  I haven’t seen anything from groups such as the Copyright Council, but if you have additional resources please feel free to bring them to our attention!

Trade Agreements
We have signed tow FTAs this year with Korea and Japan, both contain IP chapters. On copyright these continue to focus on enforcement, with limited recognition of other interests. In the reports on KAFTA they also included an opinion that the decision in the iiNet case was inconsistent with our trade agreements, and should be overturned, something that has now been suggested in the response to online copyright infringement.  We disagree with this interpretation of our international commitments, and said so in our submission.

Negotiations on the TPP continue, the next meeting will be in the first week in September in Hanoi.  The intention still seems to be concluding the agreement in  November, but this hinges a lot on whether Japan, the US and Canada can sort out the market access issues.  We continue to liaise at departmental and political level to ensure that the negotiators and decision makers are aware of the potential effects on user groups.

Other matters

We’ve also recently put in a submission to the Competition Policy Review (done a fair amount of media about the lack of movement on the IT Pricing recommendations \and supporting the work of the libraries at WIPO

Within the Attorney-General’s department a small group has been created to look at copyright reform, including online infringement and the ALRC recommendations.  We continue to work on this, and will be looking to some wider advocacy efforts toward the end of the year.

And, in some excellent news, we finally signed the Marrakesh Treaty!

If anyone is in Melbourne on Tuesday/Wednesday do consider coming to AuIGF – I’ll be speaking on panels about regulation on the internet and intermediary liability.

As always. please do keep up with our work at http://digital.org.au/blog or follow @aus_digital on twitter.  And feel free to email info@digital.org.au questions/concerns/suggestions/queries.

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A Simple Comment to a Video…

or Why You Don’t Ask An Internet Communications Student For A Comment On A Video Off YouTube, Because You Might Just Get What You Asked For (but that was too long for a title on my blog, so you get the simplified version).

So, it appears I cannot retire my “political hat” any time soon. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a link from the Vice Chancellor of Curtin University, Professor Terry. All in all, it’s a good delivery of an update on the goings on around campus and what she is doing to keep up-to-date with the various campuses. I, however, have the following email which I am about to send to the Vice Chancellor, as per her invitation for comments.

And now for my extensively long comment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Dear Professor Terry,

Thank you so much firstly for posting your video on YouTube, and for inviting comments. It is rare to hear someone in an actual position of authority openly ask for, and encourage feedback in such an engaging medium as the Web.

I was happy to hear you speak of the restructuring of the academic teaching system within Curtin University. As a current student, completing my Honours thesis this year with a view to going forward to higher degrees by research in order to join academia and the teaching profession, it is a relief to hear that you will not be cutting numbers of teaching staff. I do, however, offer my story as a view from the other side of the fence that you may not have considered in the implementation of these changes.

I began my undergraduate degree as an Open University’s Australia student, not because I wasn’t as committed to my studies as on campus students but because, as a mature aged, single parent student without high school completion dependant on public transport who was working full time in order to make ends meet, it afforded me the best possible opportunity to fit me life and study together in the same 24 hours everyone else had.

When I made the realisation that this degree I had undertaken was giving me a more rounded sense of accomplishment and personal pride than almost anything else I had undertaken, I decided that I would be furthering my studies. The staff of the department with which I was studying afforded me every opportunity to obtain the necessary information, facilitated my education with a shared passion for the learning material and concepts of study that I thought were a myth amongst academics.

This department was that of Internet Studies, out of the school of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University – a group of academics whom I owe a great debt of gratitude and thank no end for the development of a lifelong love of learning.

This inspiration is, I’m afraid, in spite of almost being erased from the history books due to a proposed cancellation of on campus enrolments last year. This move would have seen the end of this department – the first and only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia. The students of this department lead and won the fight to retain the opportunity to attend on campus classes, despite opposition from the chancellory of the university, through online and offline means of protest.

But my story does not stop here.

As a current Honours student in the Arts, I have seen more uncertainty regarding the offerings to students already this year than I feel is acceptable. This is absolutely through no fault of the teaching and support staff who have done the very best with what they have had available.

I am attending classes on campus, having made arrangements with my family and employer, as an off campus option has not been made available to students this year. I have been lead to understand that this is due to a revision and restructuring of the unit material and teaching method. This, in spite of having been offered as an off campus study stream in previous years.

Class timetables were finally made available to students, in order to select the  days and times of their classes, only a few days before the beginning of the semester. We then received automated confirmation that our chosen times and days would be made available, only to be told the following week that they were not, and that the classes would be combined and only available on a single day of the week. Thankfully for me, I have a moderately flexible employer who understood that these changes to my schedule were not under my control.

We were then told, just a few weeks later, that the previously possible day and time for class to be held was still available and that the consensus of the class would be the deciding factor as to whether or not the day and time of our compulsory-attendance class would be changed in the middle of the first term. While it only took a matter of an hour or so for the decision to be made by the students that keeping the current day and time would be best, the moments of panic were felt by more than just myself, I can assure you.

I was probably not the only student who felt that continuing studying would be jeopardised if the class were to change circumstances again.

I was probably not the only student who felt that their employer might not be so understanding if study circumstances were to change again.

I was probably not the only student panicking that the Honours we had invested ourselves in might be taken away from us before we had the opportunity to really get started.

What I do know for certain is, I am the only student from my department currently studying Honours with Curtin University. Why? An unofficial poll of my fellow online students puts this down to the inability of enrolling off campus.

With so many Internet Studies students currently enrolled in off campus or online only study of the Internet Communications degree, it makes no sense to not have this further education offered online if, as you say, numbers of teaching staff have not been reduced.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus, especially with the fine online access to Curtin Library resources we now have available.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus with the degree of control and interaction possible through the Blackboard system, which served as my lecture, seminar and tutorial space for three years quite sufficiently.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus, when the Internet Studies department of Curtin university have shown that this mode of study facilitation can create future scholars that will, one day, make Curtin University proud.

This, Professor Terry, is why I find it difficult to believe that the current restructuring at Curtin University has no negative impact on the numbers of teaching staff available to students of Curtin University. I have seen the ability of the teaching staff of Curtin University to traverse space and time to deliver a world-class degree second to none in the world. I have also seen the trials of trying to deal with university bureaucracy when staffing changes, restructuring, budget cuts, reforms and proposed denial of access take place.

Please, if you want to be sure that these staffing changes hold no negative impact for the students of Curtin University, both current and future, I suggest you ask the current students if they are seeing any ramifications from the initial changes today. You may be surprised to hear what they have to tell standing in direct opposition to what the numbers and figures suggest.

I may be just one student telling my story today, but this is not my story alone.

Many thanks for your time,

Melissa Nile.
– current Honours student of B.A. (Internet Communications)

 

TL;DR:

I didn’t write all that so you could cheat and look for the Brodie’s Notes (and if you don’t know what they are, you’re too young!) version of my email. Go read it! And get off my lawn!

Why Australia opposes Fair Use.

Having just finished this article I fear, once again, for the future. Why? Because it contains a very important message that will, ultimately, get drowned out by all the other important messages we are currently facing both here and globally… but that’s a post for another time.

Fair Use for EFF.orgAustralian copyright laws always have been considered antiquated. In fact, we are not terribly forward thinking as a nation, legislatively speaking. Copyright is, however, one of those topics that very few people understand and even fewer care about, unless they stand to profit from the proceeds of it.

Every study period throughout my undergraduate degree I was approached or pointed to a discussion regarding the unsanctioned use of unattributed copyrighted material for assignment purposes.

“But if my tutor says it’s okay to use this picture in my project, then isn’t it okay?”

“What do you mean using the writing of another person is illegal unless I have a specific agreement from the copyright holder to say I can?”

These questions, and so many others like them, resulted in me banging my head against a non-existent desk or wall, as the people I was attempting to educate gleefully told me that they didn’t care, the law was stupid, and they’d go and use copyrighted material anyway because no one was going to chase them for the royalties for their use of said material.

This.

This is why ideas like Fair Use won’t take hold here.

Fair Use is a legal idea allowing people to use copyrighted material so long as the copyright holder isn’t losing out on profits from said use. It’s that simple really. Of course, the real legal mumbo jumbo goes into exclusions and restrictions, but that’s pretty much what it amounts to.

Parliament’s a funny place. And by funny I mean disparaging to the human soul.

So, as long as the public don’t care that they’re breaking the law and could stand to lose a significant amount of money to an already filthy rich corporation (think of how many times you’ve share a meme based on someone else’s work, or a music video, or copied a line from some book onto a completely unrelated image), or face jail time and as long as politicians sit in the pockets of those corporations that believe they will miss out on all the profits if they allow people to do what they’re already “turning a blind eye” to, then legislation such as Fair Use will never take hold in Australia.

 

Still not sure what it’s all about? Check out the video below for more information.

We Are The Media.

ImageSo, if you’ve been living under a rock, we’re having an election. I know that it’s tiring, and I for one am completely over the nonsense. This is the first election where I have taken part, having been a conscientious objector to compulsory voting up until now. My decision to enrol to vote is, however, a topic for another day’s post.

What I do want to discuss today is the “media blackout period” we are supposed to experience in the last few days before the actual voting day.

What is a “Media blackout period”?

Under Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a ‘blackout’ from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the end of polling on the Saturday. This three-day blackout effectively provides a “cooling off” period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising. (AEC, 2013)

Apparently, this doesn’t cover the Web, where election hype and discussion is still going crazy. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the Liberals had an “interesting” time of releasing an Internet policy that apparently wasn’t quite right first time

It’s a pretty special set of circumstances that would lead to a completely incorrect policy being released online, unbeknownst to the main politician supposedly responsible for the area the policy covers. But I digress.

The time has come for those who conduct political discussion online to understand one very simple premise:

We Are The Media.

It’s really that simple.

The media blackout is there to give voters a “cooling down period” from the financially-supported party campaigns. Political parties are not being held accountable for their actions online, and this is a worry. Political discussion between voters is not covered by this blackout, and nor should it be.

It seems to me that this is just another instance of governmental guidelines not being kept in synch with what is happening in the real world, away from the hallowed halls of parliament.

Running a conference or convention? You need to read to read this.

Why?
Every conference.
Every single conference…

“Here is the wifi password: XXXXXXXXXX1234.”

The hamster starts running in the wheel…

Aaaaaand, has a heart attack.

Conference attendees beat their heads against their iThings and other devices.
The tweet feed slows to a dull roar, then a trickle … Then … Stops.

Every time.

Why?

Venues do not seem able to comprehend the idea that while they may deal with conferences all the time, that more people are bringing more devices to a conferences in order to record all their brains may not be able to capture. Not only that, but they still want to be able to keep up with their own tweet feeds and Facebook pages. Needless to say, while it may be a good enough wifi service for small numbers of people, it simply cannot shingle the load of attendees carrying two or three devices, all to which have notifications on for multiple apps, and are trying to get their emails at the same time as tweeting and blogging.

I’m not sure what the solution is to this. I know in the past, I have worked for events at have one dedicated wifi for the official bloggers and one for the rest of the attendees. Even then, the strain was too much, it broke on a few occasions, and I was forced to resort to using my cellular data in the interim while the problem was solved.

Another pet peeve, and some may well see this as a bit of “gimme gimme”, with all the different devices being employed, and with the drive to tweet away to your heart’s content, or “follow the event on the following hash tag”, why do events not think of setting up a bank of power boards. I’m not suggesting that they supply an array of various charge cables for the different devices out there. People should bring their own! What I am suggesting is that we admit that we are a power-hungry society, meaning electricity but you can read into that what you will, and cater to that need. Want people to tweet? Let them, but provide them with a means to charge their devices so they can.

Ahem…

I will now return you to your normal programming.