Just a week after the recording industry in the UK decided to tell the government it was ok with letting people copy legally purchased CDs to iPods, it appears the Australian government is getting ready to do the same for citizens down under. We first discussed this last year, but the government is preparing to change copyright laws to make certain exceptions, including those covering time shifting and format shifting. The law also allows exceptions for parody and satire, which is a nice addition. Of course, at the same time, the government felt the need to make certain concessions to the industry -- including stronger enforcement mechanisms and larger fines for those caught file sharing. The police will even be able to issue on-the-spot fines, like speeding tickets. Of course, what's odd is that this makes it sound like a give-and-take change: consumers get a few more rights in exchange for the recording industry getting more power to punish. However, that's a bad way of looking at it. Before this change, millions of people were probably "breaking the law" simply by listening to CDs they had legally purchased on their portable music players. The problem wasn't that consumers needed to be granted more rights, balanced by stronger protections for the industry, but that the original law was clearly no good -- turning millions of people into criminals for no good reason. It's great that they're fixing some problems in the law that no one was paying attention to anyway -- but it's not clear why those needed to come with stronger enforcement at the other end as well.
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