Monday, February 14, 2005

Australian Fair Use To Be?

While Norway has taken questionable steps (from a user's perspective) in the copyright frontier, Australia is considering the introduction of a fair use equivalent. Australian copyright law is up for review and Attorney-General Ruddock seems to have a reasonable view of what users should be allowed to do with the content they rightfully purchased:
"There's a reasonable argument for putting forward the opinion that when someone has bought something in one format and has acquired the copyright for it in that particular format then there is a fair use for them to take it to another format. I think it's a strong argument."
This is quite a different line from what the Norwegians are putting forward: you may copy for private use, even circumvent copy protections to do so, but only if source and destination of the content are the same digital medium. From CD to CD is okay, but ripping a CD to your MP3 would not be allowed. This is a puzzling rule, which may not even provide users with the possibility to enjoy private use in its restrictive realm of a digital medium lock-in. I'm not familiar with the exact copyright provisions, but (restricted) circumvention for private use will prove to be fairly useless if the import and trade in copyright circumvention tools is actually prohibited, as it seems to be(come) in Norway: you may circumvent, within the same digital medium, but you may not get your hands on the tools to do so. Of course, to the digirati this prohibition often proofs to be useless, but the average user may indeed be hindered in exercising a private use. This could have the opposite effect of the prevention of copyright infringement the Norwegian copyright reform aims at: users will navigate themselves to the proper formats via "illegal" p2p networks. Not so legal, but not so hard either.
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Related Australian news report (may be subscription based)


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