MPAA To Aussies: Obey US Created Copyright Rules! But Don't Even Think About Importing Fair Use

from the we-write-your-laws dept

As reported here back in August, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is taking a long, hard look at current copyright laws and has been gathering submissions from a variety of businesses and rights holders in response to 55 copyright-related questions. The submissions have been posted at the ALRC website for public view.

Unsurprisingly, many representatives of legacy industries have responded with suggestions that the status quo be protected and any major or minor modifications of current law in favor of “fair dealing” or “exceptions” be discarded immediately. If any changes have to be made, these industries would prefer that they skew entirely in their direction. For some reason, the MPAA has chimed in, despite the fact that this entity's views on copyright are widely known, thanks to the fact that it never, ever shuts up about it. 

The MPAA's response (RTF) opens up with stating it support of the Australian Film Bodies' views, before gently (but firmly) reminding the ALRC that Australia signed some very skewed and restrictive trade agreements with the US, lest there be any questions about which country's rules it should be following.

While both the Terms of Reference and the “Guiding Principles” make reference to Australia’s copyright law obligations with respect to copyright, it is important to recognize that these are not simply random or uncoordinated requirements with which Australia has agreed to comply. Australia is an active participant in an evolving international dialogue that articulates comprehensive norms and minimum standards for participation in an dynamic global marketplace in works of authorship and other copyright materials… In addition, the copyright and enforcement provisions of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) are of particular significance, not only because AUSFTA was, at the time of its adoption, a state-of-the-art pact between Australia and one of its most important trading partners, but also because it has contributed significantly to the template for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations, in which Australia is now actively engaged along with ten other trading partners around the Pacific Rim.

The MPAA goes on to point out that the “three-step test” for limitations and exceptions to existing copyright law means that no one's going to be creating blanket exemptions for “private use” or “backup copies” which, according to the MPAA “falls well short of compliance with global norms.” The MPAA also warns the ALRC to not get any funny ideas about adopting American-style “fair use,” something it enjoys using (“MPA members, who, after all, are users as well as creators of copyrighted works, depend upon it in their business and creative operations…“) much more than it enjoys being forced to respect it.

The enactment as part of Australian law of a new system based on the fair use doctrine would not bring with it this century and a half of judicial precedent that allows counsel, and the companies and individuals they advise, to rely upon the doctrine. Indeed, at its introduction, the new system would be unsupported by any binding precedent at all.

Hmm. I would imagine our fair use doctrine began without any binding precedent as well, because when things start, it's usually on the ground floor. Then there's this bit of hypocrisy, considering the MPAA spent a couple of paragraphs reminding the ALRC that it was subject to trade agreements composed by the USTR, an American entity.

Since it is inconceivable that, as part of any new system of copyright exceptions in Australia, its courts would be directed to slavishly follow U.S. precedent, it is inescapable that there would be considerable uncertainty about the resolution of claims based on the new system in Australian courts. This is likely to create a deleterious level of unpredictability for copyright owners, copyright users, and the public. Whatever social benefits might fairly be attributed to the fair use doctrine under U.S. law would be unlikely to survive the passage across the Pacific to Australia

“Inconceivable.” The MPAA keeps using that word. I do not think it means what it thinks it means. The MPAA has clearly pushed for Australia, along with many other countries, to follow US precedent when it comes to copyright length, restrictions and enforcement. Those negative aspects seem to “survive the passage” without any deleterious effects. But somehow, “fair use” just can't make the trip unscathed.

Judging by the followup paragraph, it looks like the only reason fair use couldn't make its way across the ocean is because the MPAA would have its boat scuttled and its crew tossed overboard to be eaten by shrieking eels. Here's the MPAA's real fear: someone might get something for free!

An additional uncertainty involves the impact of a change in Australian law on existing licensing agreements. Since the likely purpose, and even more likely a result, of borrowing from fair use to amend Australian law would be to expand, at least to some degree, the scope and applicability of exceptions to copyright protection, it is almost inevitable that some licensees would be compelled to re-examine whether they any longer needed to obtain a license for particular uses, or whether they could instead rely upon the expanded exception resulting from the new fair use provision. 

The MPAA states that any new exemptions would “destabilize settled markets for the licensing of copyrighted material.” Good old MPAA. It loves “settled markets.” The IP world has been changing very quickly over the last 15 years, but the MPAA's ongoing response is determined stasis, making it look for all the world like a plate spinner who's down to his last plate, but is spinning the HELL out of it, all the while yelling “NOBODY TOUCH ANYTHING!” 

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Comments on “MPAA To Aussies: Obey US Created Copyright Rules! But Don't Even Think About Importing Fair Use”

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44 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

Not clever enough sneering to sell me.

Nor is this worth the read: “MPAA would have its boat scuttled and its crew tossed overboard to be eaten by shrieking eels.” — Do eels shriek? Even freshwater eels used to living near the surface? Somebody Google for that: it’s obviously a key point that might support this Tim’s views. — Even if so, it’s a silly image, and if you wish the rest to be taken seriously — well, I ain’t here to teach Ritin’ 101.

It’s just that without a few clever quips, you end up with near boiler-plate text of your “side”, no surprises here.

Cory of PC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Do You have a life?

And this is just responding to your Subject:

He kinda does, but not in the way we see it: sitting in front of his computer, hitting that refresh button for a new article to appear, clicking on the comment button and typing in his way of saying “FIRST!” But then there’s the time he does sit through and read it, only to take

So while he does have a “life,” he really doesn’t have a real life. I tried telling him to get one, but I guess he’s too busy sitting in front of his computer. Either that or he’s glued to his seat and can’t get out of it and the chair’s bolted to the floor.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not clever enough sneering to sell me.

You wouldn’t get the reference. It’s from an independent film, one of the best comedies of all time that you apparently have never seen.

Second!

“Back, or I’ll call the brute squad!”
“I’m on the brute squad.”
“You are the brute squad.”

I’d go as far to say it is the yardstick that all other comedies measure themselves to.

Anonymous Coward says:

The MPAA acts like treaties can’t be rescinded.

Given that everything that comes to Aussie land is either delayed nearly a year, doesn’t make it to their market at all, terminates before the series ends, or is priced nearly 1 1/2 times what those in the states would pay, even though their dollars is worth more than ours, maybe it would be better to rescind the treaty.

I wouldn’t even bother to address ootb’s posts, he states that most of the time he neither reads the article nor the comments so commenting on his posts is a wasted effort. Instead, hit the report button and move on.

Anonymous Coward says:

the best thing for Australia to do is tell the USA in it’s entirity, entertainment industries and all, to fuck off! there is no way any country, under any circumstances, should be dictating to another coujntry what it can or cant do or what it should or shouldn’t do! Australia isn’t going to gain anything at all from protecting the industries of somewhere else and you can bet a pound to a pinch of shit that the USA in general and entertainment industries in particular do not and will not ever give a toss as far as protecting anything, anywhere other than in the US. if the situation were reversed, the US would be telling Australia in no uncertain terms to fuck off!!

Anonymous Coward says:

the best thing for Australia to do is tell the USA in it’s entirity, entertainment industries and all, to fuck off! there is no way any country, under any circumstances, should be dictating to another coujntry what it can or cant do or what it should or shouldn’t do! Australia isn’t going to gain anything at all from protecting the industries of somewhere else and you can bet a pound to a pinch of shit that the USA in general and entertainment industries in particular do not and will not ever give a toss as far as protecting anything, anywhere other than in the US. if the situation were reversed, the US would be telling Australia in no uncertain terms to fuck off!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

100% agree, unfortunately our country is well known for being the US’s bitch, so our polititians are way more likely to give what the MPAA ask for.
Keep in mind we’re talking about a government that has been holding Secret Meetings with the content industry and effectively refusing to give any information about the goings on…

It’s a scary sight when the only party talking sense is the Greens (the Australian Green party have a long history of being f-ing nuts)

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Dear Austrailia...

Many of us US Citizens hate our government and hate all MAFIAA.We are very sorry and we do like Australians.
Money and Power are our big Enemies and they are not easy to fight.
A Global Effort will be needed in order to get as much Dirty Laundry as possible to Air out for the World to see.
Who knows maybe the Truth Will Set Us Free.

pyro says:

Re: Dear Austrailia...

Unfortunately, we (the people) don’t get a look in. All of this kind of stuff is acted upon without so much as a news headline in ANY newspaper. Once something has been made law/treaty/whatever, that’s it. It’s here for good.

I swear that Australia must be the easiest place in the world to pass laws. They could invent a law tomorrow that said, “All people with names starting with B must be thrown in jail.” Sighting that they’re 10 times more likely to commit an “offence” and even the people with names starting with B would go, “I’m sure that’s based on sound statistics and logic. Seems legit.”

Take our stupid hoon laws for example. Created to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re: Dear Austrailia...

Our pollies and public servants tend to look at infrastructure problems as needing enforcement fixes (new laws and fines). Just remember that the IQ of our parliaments are in inverse proportion to the number of pollies we have.

Most of them are from a legal background. Any of them that have an engineering or science background tend to be ignored by the rest as not being intelligent enough (this is irrespective of what party they may belong to) to be able to discuss the legal implications of any infrastructure problem.

Either that or they are just big mouth liars, bullies or back stabbers, case in point being the former PMs RM, GW, B(R)H, and PK.

Hoons don’t care anyway, to fix those kinds of problems one needs to fix the individual, whether they be hoons, druggies, drunks or just-dont-cares.

To fix an individual requires the individual to actually care about what he/she is doing and when it boils down to it, what would make such individuals care is really unknown.

Anonymous Coward says:

And let me guess what happens next: darryl, being the Australian that he is, pops over to scream how none of us are copyright experts, we need all our heads examined and he is PROUD PROUD PROUD of how restricted and gypped his country is when it comes to media.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the thought process of an unimaginative shitstain.

Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re:

Who said anything about him being an aussie? We have enough people we really need to send back to where they came from because they don’t want to be Australian.

Many years ago, a true blue said, “Me Aussie, Me proud, I come here to be free, send them back those who don’t want to be free from hatred and prejudices of their old lands.”

Why would we want to claim him as one of our own?

davnel (profile) says:

Relax, folks. This is a self-limiting problem. Technology and innovation march on, DESPITE the MAFIAA or any other group. Eventually the old-guard will die off, the young blood will take over, the technology will advance to the point that none of their machnations will have any effect. In the mean time, it may get a little more rough, but only for a very limited time.

IronM@sk (profile) says:

Revoking the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)

I am one Australian who would be happy to see the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) annulled like a bad marriage.

What benefits have I seen the AUSFTA provide? Here’s a couple of quick examples:

1) Logitech Z-5500 speakers on the Logitech (US) site at the time I purchased mine – $399 RRP. Price on the Logitech (AU) site? $799 RRP

2) Almost everything on Steam is jacked up for Aussies.

3) USPS: Even when a bargain can be found, by means of ebay or Amazon, the cost of shipping said item to Aus seems arbitrarily inflated.

I once bought some items from a UK eBay store, which cost me $5 shipping. The same item in a US eBay store? $35 shipping.

Fuck the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. Everything I want can be obtained cheaper in the UK or China.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Revoking the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)

The FTA is basically looked at like any other bit of dunny (toilet) paper – good for removing shit but weak and easily dismissed.

The MPAA response tot the ALRC has been met with resounding hilarity by everyone who has read it, and the bit about back-ups is even more hilarious since we currently under the Copyright Act as it stands already have the ability to create backups for personal purposes

If you noticed Today Tonight (and I gather A Current Affair will soon) had a segment on infringing CD’s last night. This was basically a huge gab fest by Neil Gain of AFACT (ie: the MPAA) and had ominous warnings how police suspect terrorism is sponsored by the sale of the DVD’s (they raided a DVD shop in ChinaTown – Sydney that has been operating in full view knowingly by all concerned for over 18months)

That segment is the first part of a campaign by AFACT and the MPAA etc to try to stop what the ALRC is trying to do with our copyright reforms. Next you will see all about how Big Pharma is doing it bad, etc etc, yada yada..

The MPAA has basically no clout anymore within Australia’s political circles after their fiasco with iiNet and the whole of their response is petulant and bullying – ie: They are scared silly! Especially after what is happening in Canada and in NZ over copyright and court cases.

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