[clug] Against US-AU FTA Intellectual Property Clauses

Darren Freeman daz111 at rsphysse.anu.edu.au
Fri Apr 9 02:42:14 GMT 2004

Dear list,

I just sent the email below to practically everybody I know.

I thought you might find it useful to do the same.

And I'd like to thank Rusty for his talk at the PSIG last night,
he inspired me to get off my rump and write it.

If I've said something stupid, then I probably don't want to hear
it right now given the number of recipients ;) But post it anyway.

Have fun,


Hi all,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

   "Linux/Open Source Against US-AU FTA Intellectual Property Clauses"


You might be surprised to learn that in Australia you don't have the
right to make personal backups of copyrighted material, unlike in the US
where everybody has that right. Still in the US they don't have the
right to convert from one format to another, such as from CD to portable
MP3 player. NZ has given its people both of these rights.

You might also be surprised to learn that in the US it is a federal
crime to circumvent an access control to a copyrighted work, such as
modifying a DVD player or games console to play discs from other
countries which you bought legally. In the famous case against PhD
student Dmitry Sklyarov, (http://freesklyarov.org), he was arrested by
the FBI at a conference in which he demonstrated flaws in the encryption
of the Adobe eBook format, which allowed him to convert eBooks into
Braille for the blind. He was treated like a hardened criminal.

Also many people have been pursued for sharing code that allows a DVD to
be decrypted and played by a computer. Clinton asserted that computer
code was not a protected form of speech under the constitution, so
people started putting it on t-shirts and singing it to show how stupid
the situation was. This code has nothing to do with unauthorised copying
of DVDs since they don't need to be decrypted for that. It is, however,
essential for making an open source DVD player, which is never going to
be authorised by the Motion Picture Association of America to play your
DVDs, since they can't enforce region codes and other anticompetitive
agendas. Didn't know they controlled your rights to play your DVDs, did
you? They made the standard, they control it through the legal system.
So using such a player is a federal crime in the US, but not here
because we have at least some "fair use" clauses (not many though).

The big surprise (or otherwise) in the new US-AU Free Trade Agreement
Chapter 17, is that although we gain none of the rights that US citizens
have (backup your own CDs), we lose our right to tinker with anything
controlling copyrighted works, which would include anything with a
computer since computers run software and software is usually
copyrighted. In essence, if the government enacts chapter 17 into our
laws, we will also be guilty of a crime for playing DVDs with an open
source player, a region-free player, playing games bought overseas on a
modchipped console, modifying a US-made TiVo for Australia, and one day
soon, for whistling a copyrighted tune.

Have fun,
Darren Freeman

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and therefore do not know anything about
anything. No responsibility will be taken for the above rant. Consume at
own risk.

PS: feel free to forward this email on to others, but please remove
references to my email address as I don't want a mountain of spam.

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