Thursday, June 28, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
What's Crown copyright? Crown copyright is essentially government-owned copyright. This means that the government owns the copyright in those particular works, like a company might own copyright, or I own copyright in this blogpost. In addition to general works, governments also own copyright in legislation and case law that is produced by the Parliament or judiciary in that particular jurisdiction. Pursuant to Division 1 Part VII of the Copyright Act, Crown copyright subsists in:
- works "made by, or under the direction or control of the Commonwealth or a State" (section 176)
- works first published in Australia if this first publication is by, or under the direction or control of, the Commonwealth or a State (section 177)
- sound recordings and cinematograph films "made by, or under the direction or control of the Commonwealth or a State" (section 178)
- in addition to these provisions, the Crown owns any copyright materials produced by its employees under the general employment provision contained in the Copyright Act, subsection 35(6).
In 2005, the now-dissolved Copyright Law Review Committee released a report on the Australian Crown copyright provisions and made a number of significant recommendations, including the repeal of sections 176-178 and that copyright in primary legal materials (and a number of other government documents, for example, certain Committee reports) be abolished. The Federal Government is yet to reply to the recommendations made by the Committee.
Is Crown copyright available everywhere? Many countries do not have Crown or government copyright: for example, in the United States, "copyright protection...is not available any work of the United States Government" (17 U.S.C section 105). This means that all government produced works, legislation, case law etc is technically in the public domain (with some scholars arguing that, because of this fact, the 'public domain' takes on an additional significance, because copyright law cannot impede the use and wider reuse of these materials.)
What was CAL v State of New South Wales  FCAFC 80 about? In two words: surveyor plans. Pursuant to a number of NSW statutes, survey plans have to follow certain requirements in order to be registered in NSW. These survey plans are also reproduced for certain purposes by the NSW Government and stored in a database. CAL went to the Copyright Tribunal seeking a determination pursuant to sections 183 and 183A of the Copyright Act as to the amount of royalties that the NSW Government should have to pay to the copyright owners for use of particular plans. However, the State of NSW argued that it was the copyright owner under sections 176 (the plans were made under its direction or control) and 177 (it was the first to publish the plans, therefore, under this section, it owned the copyright). The case was referred to the Federal Court of Australia, where the Full Bench made a determination.
What did the Court find about Crown copyright? The Federal Court found that Crown copyright did not subsist in the survey plans in question under either section 176 and 177. Therefore, the Crown did not own the copyright in these particular plans.
Does that mean the State of NSW lost? The Court found that while Crown copyright did not subsist in the plans, the State was entitled to a licence, beyond what was permitted under section 183 of the Copyright Act, allowing it reproduce and communicate the plan in question to the public. The Court found that the “State is licensed to do everything that, under the statutory and regulatory framework that governs registered plans, the State is obliged or authorised to do with or in relation to registered plans.” (at 158).
What was interesting about the case? To me, the glaring omission was the fact that the court did not discuss the recommendation of the CLRC in its final Crown Copyright report that sections 176 and 177 actually be repealed. There are two issues here. First, it is understandable that the Court may have been reluctant to engage in any discussion of whether the Federal Government should or should not repeal these provisions given that the Government is yet to respond to the review. Second, however, the Court did not even mention the fact that the CLRC had conducted a review into Crown copyright and made a recommendation regarding these provisions. While some may consider that irrelevant to the current point at hand, it seems to me that if you are discussing provisions of the Copyright Act that might not be around in a year, it may be worth mentioning that fact.
Will the decision be appealed? According to this CAL press release, "CAL is considering the decision and will decide on our next move in the next few weeks." Let's all chant softly, "High Court! High Court! High Court!"
How do you know all this?
Copyright Agency Limited v State of New South Wales  FCAFC 80 (5 June 2007)
"Court decides surveyors own copyright in maps and plans", CAL News Release.
Catherine Bond, "Reconciling Crown Copyright and Reuse of Government Information: An Analysis of the CLRC Crown Copyright Review", (2007) 12 Media & Arts Law Review (forthcoming), available on SSRN as part of the UNSW Faculty of Law Research Series here.
We have recently discovered that this is the National Carillon (excellent photography by Catherine Bond).
Catherine was keen to get a new job at the High Court but was told by a security guard that the position of Chief Justice was not yet available (but he took her name for future reference - or possibly - to keep her out in the future).
Finally, as you can tell by the expression on Abi's face- Canberra can be downright joyful (despite the cold)!
If anybody feels that our photos do not truly reflect the essence of Canberra, Matthew Rimmer has kindly suggested the following places:
(Pictured: "Cath's shot of the Carillon", "Cath at the High Court" and "Joyful Abi", Catherine Bond, Pictures available under either a AEShareNet license or Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Update: Additional news about the story is starting to hit the mainstream media. According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, US District Court Judge Claude M Hilton took account of the fact that Griffiths served 3 years in Australian prisons, so he will only seve 15 more months (in a United States prison). This puts to rest fears that Griffiths had expressed to his father that the judge would not take into account those three years served in jail prior to his extradition to Virginia (see those here).
It's been quite interesting actually to see how our local news media handled the story. Just after the sentence was announced the Sydney Morning Herald picked up this AFP story about the case, titled "Briton sentenced to 51 months prison in US for internet piracy." Griffiths is in fact British, having never gained Australian citizenship after arriving in Australia aged 7. Both the mainstream Sydney Sunday newspapers, The Sun-Herald and the Sunday Telegraph picked up the story with the Sun-Herald story reproduced on the Sydney Morning Herald site here. So the case has been getting coverage, although perhaps not as much as might be expected, given that this was a case involving 1) extradition to the United States and 2) jail sentences for copyright infringement.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
83 teams worldwide have already registered, in places including our hometown of Sydney (with the team headed up by Software Freedom International President and House of Commons friend Pia Waugh), Nigeria, Mexico, Peru, Italy, Scotland and the United States (just to name a few - and with the deadline to register not until 31 July expect that list of locations to grow!)
Monday, June 18, 2007
According to reports in The Sun-Herald yesterday, Griffiths will definitely be sentenced this Friday. Further, it is also reported that there has been a plea bargain, which means Griffiths may/will get a reduced sentence. If you are interested in the Griffiths case, we will have a fuller discussion of the case when his sentence is handed down.
Update: Griffiths is also discussed in the context of extradition of individuals by the United States in a Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece by Mark Coultan. As Coultan notes, the Griffiths case "is trumpeted as a victory for US authorities battling software pirates around the globe but it has raised concerns about the reach of American law and the Australian Government's penchant for allowing the US to deal with Australian citizens." Read more here.
Friday, June 15, 2007
"The ABC is finalising plans to re-sell The Chaser's War on Everything to overseas TV networks.Further:
The satirical show has grown an international following thanks to the ABC's policy of allowing its shows to be accessed for free through its website and uploaded to video sharing sites like YouTube." (Offshore interest for Chaser's stunts, SMH, 13 June 07)"
Incentive for other networks to consider alternate business models.
"Gibson added that ABC's decision to make the show available as a free download from its website had actually increased, not threatened, sales of the show on DVD.
This contrasts with the views of most commercial networks, which go to extreme lengths to control the distribution of their content."
The fact that more and more people have been watching the show due to improved accessibility (as easy as hitting 'download') increases the audience of consumers interested in purchasing DVDs (with better quality, deleted scenes, commentary etc- all value adding) not to mention a host of other merchandise (books, clothes etc) and revenue from advertising placed on the show's website.
The success of the model will vary depending on the show (ABC is a public broadcaster). However, it is definitely an approach that should be more widely considered.
"You're acting like some Alice-in-Wonderland character, saying that your definition of words is the only one that matter. And that others are "confused". Read up on your humpty-dumpty some day."
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
Luckily for Leak, the recently introduced section 41A of the Copyright Act contains a fair dealing exception for the purposes of parody and satire. In light of this, most experts predicted that Moulinsart would not succeed if it decided to take action.
Moulinsart eventually conceded that Leak is free to portray Kevin Rudd as Tintin (yes, the Copyright Amendment Blob won this fight) but threatened to sue if he continued to make the images available for sale via The Australian website (but the war continues). Apparently Leak responded to Moulinstart's letter by saying "I'm not a lawyer, I'm a cartoonist. I poke fun at people for a living. I'm sure Herge would have approved" (source).
A representative for the firm claimed:
"We have no problem with him using Tintin as a parody in his cartoons in the newspaper but when he starts selling them to the public then it becomes more commercial than editorial and he is infringing copyright.... It is passing those cartoons off as something they are not, as something official. He is not permitted to make those sales so we want him to stop doing that and to compensate us for any past sales. Our job is to promote and protect Herge's work and we are very serious about this." ("The Bleak side of Tintin'", The Australian, June 4 2007)Somehow, I think the many references to Australian industrial relations policy and John Howard might give away the fact that the cartoon isn't quite 'official'. After all, the real Tintin never actually came to Australia.
"Satire, with apologies to Herge", The Australian, June 1 2007
"The Bleak side of Tintin'", The Australian, June 4 2007
"Tintin lives on in Leak'toons" The Australian, June 4 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
Regular blogging will probably commence again next weekend or early next week at the latest. And we promise to license and upload to Flickr any photos we take that capture the true essence of Canberra.
If you are looking for further information, then see:
FSF Releases 'Last Call' Draft of GPLv3 press release here
Richard Stallman's essay on 'Why Upgrade to GPL version 3' here
The Actual Last Call Draft here
Hat Tip: OSWALD
Friday, June 01, 2007
The DRM-free tracks retail at $A2.19, 50 cents more than the DRM-ed songs that retail at $A1.69 and according to Apple these songs are better quality. For those cursing the fact they've bought an EMI song with DRM but could now get it DRM-free, Apple has stated that where the DRM-free track is available, users can "upgrade existing purchases" by paying the extra 50 cents for the song or about $5.10 for an album.
Will this be the day that DRM died? I have to admit I'm not sure, and it will be interesting to see whether iTunes Plus is as popular as Apple's other products (iPods) and services (legal downloads!), although all signs point to yes.
(Author's Note - A Google search reveals that many individuals are asking whether this decision by Apple and EMI is the "day that DRM died". Seems as though all of us bloggers instantly thought of those immortal American Pie lyrics!)