[clug] US Australia Free Trade Agreement

Alex Satrapa grail at goldweb.com.au
Tue Apr 6 13:56:18 GMT 2004

On 6 Apr 2004, at 11:55, Michael Still wrote:

>         http://linux.org.au/papers/fta-paper.pdf

> Open Source software (aka Free Software) is important, and quickly
> growing in Australia. ...  The FTA implies laws which strengthen
> large software companies at the expense smaller players: Open Source
> encourages everyone to become a software producer and distributor, so
> the damage is far-reaching.  The FTA also limits any legislative damage
> control we might attempt later, at a time when more people are becoming
> aware of the dangers of these laws.

The FTA is simply a ploy by the USA to annex Australia :)

Wasn't it the United States Secretary of Trade who recently announced 
that the USA was going to be strongly policing the terms of their Free 
Trade Agreements with various countries? That doesn't bode well, 
considering the issues brought up in this paper.

Issues which aren't addressed by the paper include:

1) Given that the Federal and most State governments are 
Microsoft-shops, it will become impossible to do business with 
Government agencies if one doesn't use Microsoft products. The DA, DMCA 
and FTA will grant Microsoft a monopoly over all Government 
interaction. This is the purpose of Microsoft's patent on their XML 
schema for Office 2003 documents - to prevent competitors from working 
with the Office file format.

2) Software such as SAMBA will become illegal, since it relies on 
reverse engineering a protocol which could be covered by any number of 
unknown patents.

3) New Zealand has recently passed laws which permit the copying of 
licenced works for personal use - that is, you can convert the CD you 
just bought into music files to be played on your player of choice (eg: 
iPod, Nomad). This is illegal in Australia - everyone who owns an MP3 
player is technically in breach of the law unless there is no content 
stored on it. Australia may be leading the way in terms of 
restrictions, but New Zealand at least understands that humans are more 
important than corporations. However, I don't feel that New Zealand's 
laws go far enough - what if I have better tools and techniques for 
converting the music on a CD into Ogg Vorbis files than my friend? NZs 
laws don't allow me to take my friend's CD and produce the (insert 
favourite music file format here) files for my friend to use.

4) Could I be sued for attempting to circumvent an access control 
measure, simply because I refused to accept cookies from or send 
"REFERRER" headers to a web site that uses cookies and/or REFERRER 
headers to deter deep linking?

5) I have already had to withdraw from the purchase of three albums 
this year, simply because they were presented on optical media 
(resembling a CD) with flaws which may or may not prevent the material 
being accessible on my iMac at home. In the past, these intentionally 
inserted flaws have resulted in Macintosh computers being rendered 
unusable - I don't want to take the risk with my equipment.

6) How long until we have to buy a licence for Microsoft Office (and 
thus, Windows in order to run Microsoft Office) just to be able to read 
Hansard or browse through the laws of our country?

Alex Satrapa

"We never have definite knowledge of what needs to be done until we're 
finished and discover how wrong we were."
   -- Dan Burke and Alan Morrison, "Business @ The Speed Of Stupid"
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