Australia’s entertainment companies are continuing their unreasonable
campaign to control everything a consumer does with their purchased
products, including how and where they watch and listen to music and
movies. At the moment it seems the most frequently heard view is the
collective cry of Australia’s record companies, who have the big bucks
to spend in their persistent lobbying and string of recent court cases.

Copyright law specialist Michael Napthali wants politicians to know
there are many interests that need to be balanced and they should also note
that even a judgment of the High Court in late 2005 has described the
copyright debate as being “finely balanced.”

Napthali, who has been studying the impact of these cases, says
existing laws coupled with the burgeoning popularity of the iPod and
similar devices means the number of unsuspecting criminals in Australia is
growing.

“The ridiculous position of copyright law in Australia is that if you
want to put music that you’ve lawfully purchased onto your iPod, you’re
a criminal – it’s got to change now,” Napthali, of Frankel Lawyers in
Sydney, told Crikey. “This shows existing copyright laws are
inadequate, out of step and need to be reformed along the lines
suggested by our Attorney General Philip Ruddock.”

Ruddock said in a recent speech there were plans for reform aimed at
recognising some everyday forms of private copying like taping a
television show to watch at a later date or downloading music onto a
portable device. “We should not treat everyday Australians, who want to
use technology to enjoy copyright material they have obtained legally
as infringers, where this does not cause harm to our copyright
industries,” he said in his speech.

But Stephen Peach, chief executive of the Australian Recording Music Association (ARIA) begs to differ and according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald says those sorts of changes would “give out the wrong message” to consumers.

The same story quotes Gordon Renouf, spokesman for the Australian
Consumers Association, as saying current laws are “out of touch
with reality.”

“You and your family ought to be able to buy a CD and play it on a range of devices,” he told the SMH.