Dale Dietrich
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Australian Copyright Reform: Copying CDs to iPods, Legal – Breaking DRM or Archiving Recorded TV, Illegal

Categories: CopyrightDMCA-like LawsDRM Restricting UseFair Use/DealingInternational Legal Reform

  Text of Copyright Amendment Bill 2006
Australia is set to amend its  copyright laws to finally make it legal for consumers to record TV shows and to copy music they own on CDs onto their iPods and other portable music devices.  Such copying is now illegal under Australian and British copyright law. The Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 passed through both houses of Parliament and most of it will become law by January 1. According to theage.com.au:

"It will legalise format shifting of materials such as music, newspapers, books, meaning that people can put their CD collection onto iPods or mp3 players." 

But, and this is a big but, it will be illegal/infringing to breach a technological protection measure (TPM) to copy or format shift content you own.  This pretty much nullifies the importance of this amendment beyond the CD format as virtually all content will be locked down with TPMs/DRM going forward.  Too bad. 

Importantly, the Australian Attorney General makes it clear in this FAQ that building up a library of programs recorded from TV broadcasts for a permanent archive is not permitted.  I have argued for years that permanent archiving of TV shows (whether on VHS cassette tapes or TiVo) constitutes copyright infringement under U.S. and Canadian copyright law. Few have wanted to believe me. Well, the question is answered with clarity in the Australian context at least!

And one more thing, the bill makes it legal to sing "Happy Birthday" in public – an act which was also previously illegal in Australia! :)

Dale's Comment: While the CD-to-iPod amendment is a nice short term measure, the bill, overall, is anti-consumer in the long run. Australian's have a one-time get out of jail free card.  If the past is any indication of the future, the prohibition against breaching TPMs for content owned by the consumer will be completely ignored by most consumers as it is patently unfair to preclude the purchaser of content from using it/reading it/accessing it on any device of their choosing. Hence, the law is set up to fail from the start – just as the previous prohibitions against copying failed to stop consumers from copying their music onto iPods.

Sources: theage.com.au 1 | theage.com.au 2 | The Australian | InfoWorld | Syndey Morning Herald | FAQ

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