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
Text of Agreement
Visa and Mastercard halting service to AllofMP3 effectively shut it down. In the face of the credit card departures, AllofMP3.com said it would move to an advertising supported model. Now Russia and the U.S. appear to have reached an agreement to shut it down – or did they?
ars technica and others are reporting that AllofMP3 says it will not be shut down. Instead it says Russia agreed to certain copyright reforms that AllofMP3.com says it will comply with. Even if this is true, AllofMP3 could never be what it was. If the reported agreement is implemented by Russia, any new AllofMP3.com would be as close to its current incarnation as today's Napster is to its original form.
As of the time of this post, AllofMP3.com was still up and running.
Dale's Comment: This is a sad day of sorts. While the legality of AllofMP3 was always murky, its success (second in world-wide sales only to iTunes) was a clear example of the fact that consumers are willing to pay a fair price for music from a site that services the users needs, if they are given fair rights to use the music they purchase. In the case of AllofMP3.com the user could chose the format they wished to purchase and there were no restrictions on the use they could make of the music. I look forward to the day the major labels learn this lesson and start offering DRM-free music for sale to honest users under fair terms.
Sources: TechCrunch | CNet | ars technica | Inquirer | The Register | ABC News | ComputerWorld | PC Magazine | MOSNews | MP3.com | Techwhack | Techdirt | ZDNet | Macworld | DailyTech
Text of Report
The UK think-tank, Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) has released a study, “Public Innovation: Intellectual Property in a Digital Age” where, among many other things, it recommends that U.K. citizens should have the right to copy their own content for their own personal use – something currently prohibited in the U.K. It concludes:
The BPI had come to the same conclusion earlier this year. As it stands now millions of U.K. citizens are breaking the law when copying their purchased DVDs or CDs onto their computers and iPods or creating compilation tapes of their own music. The existing law is silly. Kay Withers, one of the report’s authors, said:
The idea of all-rights reserved doesn’t make sense for the digital era and it doesn’t make sense to have a law that everyone breaks. To give the IP regime legitimacy it must command public respect.
In the U.S. personal copying for private use is enshrined in law as part of their fair use doctrine. In exchange for paying levies on blank media, the private copying exemption contained in section 80(1) of the Copyright Act makes it legal for Canadians to reproduce musical works for private use.
As Michael Geist and others have recommended, Canada and Britain should explicitly make copying of purchased content of any type (audio, video, text) for private use legal – without a media levy and without penalties for circumventing DRM/TPMs to do so. Any click wrap/shrink wrap or other end-user license terms to the contrary should be unenforcible.
Sources: BBC | Engadget | Hexus | Pocket-lint | CIO | Times Online | UPI | Xinhau | Daily Tech | TechNewsWorld | TechWeb | Silicon.com | Guardian Unlimited | Variety | P2PNet | P2PNet | PC Pro | Playfuls | Washington Times
Effective September 1, 2006, Russia implemented new legislation to crack down on illegal distribution through the internet of text, music and video in mp3 format. This has been a key condition of the United States in order for it to support Russia's entry into the 149-country global trade organization.
Dale's Comment: It's to be seen whether the law will have any bite, whether it will be enforced, and whether it will have any effect on AllofMP3.com
Sources: JURIST | MosNews | All Headline News | Torrent-freak | Yahoo! News | IP Due Diligence
The final watered-down law requires that Apple and others with proprietary music DRM formats merely respond to competitive requests for information necessary to make their products compatible with proprietary formats – at the expense of the company requesting interoperability. This is very different from the original proposed law that would have permitted consumers to break the proprietary DRM if Apple (or others) did not permit/work with competitors to develop interoperable products.
Sources: CNet | Engadget | Silicon.com | Macworld | FT.com | San Jose Mercury News (AP) | CBS | MSNBC.com | Out-Law.com | ZD-Net | DRM-Watch
The original proposed French legislation would have, among many other things, forced Apple to open up iTunes DRM to third-party licensing (or legal hacking) so that consumers can play purchased in one on-line music site on portable music devices and computers that are designed to work with another music store. The final bill out of committee settled on a system keeping DRM technologies entirely proprietary and unlicenseable when the copyright owner approves. This final bill is expected to be voted on in parliament on June 30.
Sources: ars technica | New York Times | Wired | Silicon.com | Pocket-lint | CNet | Washington Post (Reuters) | Boston Globe (AP) | Reuters | Playfuls | ZDNet | Out-law.com | MP3.com | CD Freaks | The Register | DRM Watch
Text of Committee Report
A British Parliamentary Committee is recommending regulations that require digital content packaging/websites to clearly inform consumers as to exactly what they can and cannot do with digital content “protected” by DRM. At present, details of the DRM restrictions applied to digital content are typically buried deep within legalese-laden license agreements that are unpenetrable by the average consumer.
Sources: ars technica | BBC | P2PNet | The Register | Silicon.com | PC Pro | vnunet.com | ZDNet | Cathy Kirkman
Among other proposed changes, the Australian Attorney General has announced plans to add time shifting and format shifting exemptions into Australian Copyright Law.
Sources: Law Front | Michael Geist | Attorney General's Press Release
Translated Text of Key Article 7 of Bill
After much fuss, Article 7 of France’s new Copyright Bill introduced by the lower house on February 21, may have been gutted by the Senate Commission on Cultural Affairs. Among other things, that article had required DRM makers to allow anyone to build interoperable technology.
Sources: ars technica | Boing Boing | Inquirer | Engadget | MacDaily News | EE Times | ZD Net | Techweb | DRM Watch | PC Pro
On the heels of France’s legislative push for DRM interoperability comes word that Denmark is thinking along the same lines. The legislation is not Apple-specific, however. Rather, France (and now Denmark) is pushing for general DRM interoperability that would eliminate customer lock-in.
Sources: ars technica | The Register | Mac World | Engadget | iLounge | PC Pro | Inquirer
After quietly watching developments in the French National Assembly, Apple has responded by saying the proposed law would be tantamount to state-sponsored piracy. Apple may abandon the French market.
Sources: BBC | Forbes | ars technica | Macnn | Bloomberg | PC Pro | Silicon.com
Translated Text of Key Article 7 of Bill
France’s parliament voted 296-193 in favor of a copyright bill that would be Europe’s first legislation forcing companies such as Apple Computer Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to make music downloads playable on all portable digital players. The bill is set for debate and a vote in the Senate in May.
Sources: Mac Observer | MSNBC | Globe & Mail | Engadget | ars technica | Computer World | Reuters | Financial Times | CNet | Fox News | BBC | Times Online | Forbes | Red Herring | MP3.com | The Register | L.A. Times | Wired | Aljazeera | New York Times | Hollywood Reporter | Xinhua China | John C. Dvorak | DRM Watch
The new law, now set for a vote on Tuesday, would allow consumers to circumvent software that protects copyrighted material–known as digital rights management (DRM)–if it is done to convert digital content from one format to another. Such circumvention is currently illegal in much of the world.
Sources: ZDNet | Wired | New York Times | Reuters | Business Week | CNet | USA Today | L.A. Times | Silicon.com
A law being proposed in France would force companies like Apple to open up content downloaded from, say, the iTunes Music Store to be used on non-Apple devices. If they don’t comply, customers would be allowed to break the DRM.
Sources: PC Magazine | engadget | Yahoo! News | Inquirer | Reuters | Boston Globe | ars technica | Globe & Mail | MobileMag | Playfuls | Silicon.com | Business Week | Red Herring | PC Pro
The French government is trying again to push through a measure cracking down on file-sharing on the internet. Enemies of the move in France’s National Assembly passed an amendment in December allowing users to download as much as they like for a small fee.
Text of Committee Report | version
The Australian House of Reps Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs released its report on the Review of Technological Protection Measures ("TPM") Exceptions. The report includes 37 recommendations with a long list of protections including exceptions for fair dealing, education, and libraries.
Sources: Michael Geist | LawFont.com Summary | The Age
Text of NCC submission to all-party Internet group inquiry into DRM
The UK’s National Consumer Council (NCC) is calling for new laws to better protect consumer rights when it comes to enjoying digital content.
Sources: PC Pro | vnunet.com | Inquirer | BBC | Macworld | Politics.co.uk
The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) is to hold a public inquiry into the issues surrounding Digital Rights Management (DRM), including the degree of protection needed for both copyright holders and consumers.
Sources: The Register | APIG