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Comments & corrections

Aug 23, 2012

Copyright and the internet

Crikey readers have their say.

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Kim Williams:

Chris Virtue writes: Re. “Dear Kim: here’s how you stop the filesharing ‘scumbags’” (yesterday, item 5). For all I care, Kim Williams may well have plucked that $1.37 billion figure out of the air. I suspect that the real cost of piracy to the copyright cartel is closer to zero.

Video, music and software piracy costs the content owners virtually nothing because people tend to only download shared content that they had no intention of paying for in the first place. If people really want something, they buy it. The copyright cartel has form in this, by the way. Back in the ’80s a surcharge was applied to audio and video cassettes (later extended to CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs) to compensate them for just in case we were going to be naughty and use them for copying copyrighted content. Good grief. I doubt that much of this flowed on to the musicians because content owners are so much more important than content producers.

I remember distributing a home-made CD compilation of Sydney jazz bands one Christmas back in the early ’90s. One of the recipients accused me of “depriving the musicians of income”. I asked if he had heard of any of the performers on the disc. “No.” So, how was giving him bits of records he was never going to buy ripping them off? Funnily enough, piracy often works to benefit musicians in other ways. Friends of mine have paid to see acts that they had not previously heard of because of various compilation discs.

The whole concept of intellectual property and copyright is a 19th century Western capitalist construct and the copyright cartel is just another bunch of rent-seekers. And as for what Shakespeare would have done? Do what he did — play live. Kim and his mates can’t get a piece of that action.

Get Fact:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Get Fact: is Australia ‘going it alone’ on pricing carbon?” (yesterday, item 2). Using his Fib-o-matic meter Andrew Crook condemns as “mostly rubbish” Tony Abbott’s comments that the rest of the world is not taking decisive action by way of carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes. Crook then provides the example of lots and lots of countries (including California!) that have a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme — which he then feeds into his puerile Fib-o-matic.

I tried feeding Andrew’s arguments into his machine and, guess what, it worked! His own rebuttal of Tony Abbott has not only been assessed as mostly rubbish but also red-lined in the “deliberately deceptive” zone.

Crook must know (surely?) that taxing emissions is not just a tick-the-box exercise, it’s the relative size of it that counts — including what you are taxing, how widespread the tax is, the % or $ charge, the rebates available, etc.

As Tim Flannery’s report states:

“It is not easy to compare countries’ pledges because different countries have chosen different ways to measure limiting emissions — absolute reductions in greenhouse gases, reductions in carbon intensity or reductions in emissions intensity. Countries have also selected differing base years against which the change in emissions is estimated.”

So absolute measures of lots and lots and elevating California to nation status just don’t cut it.

Stephen Mayne:

Alan Kennedy writes: After sooking on Twitter about you evil bastards at Crikey not running his Justice Murphy story, it was nice of you to run Stephen Mayne’s letter (yesterday, comments).

How many of us in newsrooms around the world have heard bleats like this? I suspect you asked yourselves a few questions before spiking the big man’s copy. What is he saying about the appointment, that Gillard acted corruptly? Looking at Murphy’s track record as a lawyer he appears to be eminently qualified to be a Federal Court Judge. Or is Stephen saying we have a dud on the bench?

Will Mayne look at  the appointment of judges in the Howard era so we can satisfy ourselves  that it was all ridgy didge and all that rhetoric about finding conservative judges not activist judges was just that, rhetoric. Can we go and look at what John Howard did when he was at Clayton Utz while opposition leader? The problem in all this dreadful smear campaign is that no one has come up with one fact proving Gillard did anything wrong. Her law firm cleared her.

Good on Crikey for not jumping aboard this very smelly bandwagon. If you find a fact, I am sure you will publish it.

John Mair writes: As an old subscriber to Crikey, it was Stephen Mayne’s raw appraisal of events — big and small — that cut a swath through press coverage of the day and made me a subscriber. It was never boring and always direct and to the point. He always did his best to get at the truth and his viewpoint was always rational.

The thought of Crikey editorial being ruled by consensus appalls me and, really, it has lost its edge since Steven left the fold. I miss Christian Kerr as well …

Buck up, you guys, and remember your roots!

Pricing justice:

Alan Corbett writes: Re. “How our courts are pricing justice out of public reach” (yesterday, item 9). Reading Richard Denniss’ article about the costs of getting justice reminded me of an experience I had as a parliamentarian. I believe I had been defamed by a certain newspaper and had sought legal advice as to my options. I was informed that while I had a strong case I had better put $40,000 aside for initial costs and expect a long and expensive process.

I decided my reputation wasn’t that important.

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4 comments

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4 thoughts on “Copyright and the internet

  1. drsmithy

    Stealing property is theft.

    Copyrighted material isn’t property.

    That is why it has a whole section of legal code devoted to its protection, rather than being covered by property law.

    Finally, by definition, you can’t have “stolen” something the owner still possesses.

  2. Edward James

    Too right! Crikey is not what it once was before Stephen Mayne sold it. It is up to all us who subscribe and post comments to keep it real! Edward James

  3. Arty

    I can agree that somestimes a piece of an artist’s work, distributed for free, assists in building a market for the music, picture, book, etc.

    However that distribution should be approved by the woner of the work – not by someone acting conrary to the owners wish.

    Stealing property is theft.

  4. zut alors

    John Mair, I second your comments regarding Stephen Mayne. We enjoyed daily larks back then…

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