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Home arrow News arrow Blog arrow Unplug less ye be sued.

Unplug less ye be sued. PDF Print E-mail
Interpretation of Australiabn copyright law is going to the dogs. A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/news/web/copyright-ruling-puts-linking-on-notice/2006/12/19/1166290520771.html brings attention to a hearing by the full bench of the federal court that, in this authors humble opinion, judges purely on the concept of guilt by association.

 

Transcripts of the full judgement can be found at [http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCAFC/2006/187.html] but the basic premis is as follows:

  1. 1. A guy was the registered owner of the domain mp3s4free.net and hosted a website using that domain name.
  2. 2. The ISP E-talk (Comcen) was aware of teh "content" on said website
  3. 3. By provding links or access to said copyright material, the "guy" and the ISP are very very bad and should goto hell.

This is paramount to being nothing more than guilt by association.

Does Sony go to hell for providing VCR's that can record copyrighted television programming? No.

Does Google go to hell because they crawl websites and as such may copy/cache certain copyrighted material? No.

Does Telstra go to hell because their POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) caries the dulcit tones of crappy copyrighted elevator music for music on hold from some companies when that material may not have been authorised/paid for? No.

Does Carlton United Breweries go to hell for producing the intoxicating liquor that sum drunkard was consuming before he left the pub pissed and then ran over and killed a little kid? No.

Does the owner/author of this site go to hell for linking to the SMH site above with its copyrighted images/stories etc? No.. well, at least not yet.

Whilst it may certainly be true that the "guy" made it EASIER to get access to said material, he certainly didn't control the flow of said material. It was already available and he merely became a single location to find material of that nature. Hang on, doesn't google do that on a broader scale? Hang on another minute... (I so feel like saying "Hang on a minute Defrag" [ http://www.australianit.com.au/defrag ] ) Shouldn't nearly all mainstream media go to hell when they released all their articles about how http://www.piratebay.org was shutdown and re-opened so quickly when it happened a few months back. They too linked to a site which linjked to freely available copyrighted material. Almost like playing a game of 6 degrees of seperation (Copyright acknowledgement: Yes there was a movie of that name staring Will Smith of which has no relevance to the purpose of this rant) whereby linking directly to content is BAD but linking to somewhere than then onlinks (providing 2 degrees of seperation) is OK? Oh, hang on, www.google.com.au, www.yahoo.com.au, www.altavista.com.au www.webwombat.com.au and probably all the other search engines link directly to copyrighted content. So how's it work then?

This all seems like a serious case of copyright stupidity. Did you know almost everyone of us could be potentially be fined for singing "Happy Birthday"? Yep, This article [ http://www.iia.net.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=517&Itemid=32 ] a the Internet Association of Australia (iia) writes about how those magic 4 lines from that little ditty most of us probably sing (OK, groan) when a fellow workmates/family member/whatever has their birthday essentially makes us criminals. Where will it end?

This reminds me somewhat about the concept of "Common Carriers" [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carrier ] whereby essentially any entity with the status of being a common carrier has certain exclusions as to their liability for what they "carry". Shouldn't a webhost, ISP or even Webmaster be excluded from what traffic they LINK to as far as liability goes? Certainly if they knowingly HOST said content then there's perhaps a case against them. Recent events with regards to cases against http://www.youtube.com (Now a subset of http://www.google.com ) will be interesting in this regards to see how big business manages to distance itself from liability with respect to copyrighted works - in this case, often material which YouTube is physically hosting on their infrastructure.

Anyway, enough rabbling from me, just be careful not to sure your happy snaps from your recent holiday to the family - there might bea copyrighted Coke (tm) logo in there that could mean you will have to go to hell.  ;)

 

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