Australia uses copyright legislation to shut down satire against government

Australian government has ordered a takedown of a web site which contained a satirical spoof of the Aussie PM John 'liberties are bad, mmmkay?' Howard's speech.

"If we receive a complaint from an intellectual property basis claiming that a website directly infringes the rights of another site we would check it, and if it is a direct copy we would suspend the site," he [the CEO of ~MelbourneIT] said.

Well... No. What you do is that you issue a Cease and Desist order to the guy who has that web site, and order him to take the offending material down, or to modify it so that it no longer infringes a copyright. You see, otherwise people will accuse you of being a spineless government puppet that advocates censorship on people who speak against the government. And it looks really, really, really bad FOR THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

It's a different thing to take down an illegal copy of the latest Britney Spears album, and a totally different thing to take down something which a) does not necessarily even infringe copyright (it may look the same, but it does not necessarily use the same code, and it certainly has completely different content), and b) contains criticism against the leaders of the country. Most importantly, you don't say "to us, it looks like a phishing site" when you have obviously no clue whatsoever what phishing is, and what a phishing site really does. Especially if you're the Chief Technical Officer of an internet company.

Since nothing important disappears in the internet, a PDF copy of the web site is of course available. Look for yourselves. It's not even offending: it's just a satirical apology speech that he thinks the PM should've issued when talking about Iraq and the war there. This way it surely gets more publicity than it would've otherwise.

(Oh yeah, a stunt like that might also look like serious copyright abuse, and really fuel the whole copyright debate again, raising questions like "now, is that really the way that copyright is supposed to be used" and "has copyright become an effective tool for shutting down competition and criticism"? But that would be quite far-fetched, now wouldn't it?)

(Via Slashdot.)


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"Main_blogentry_170306_3" last changed on 17-Mar-2006 18:29:27 EET by JanneJalkanen.