They Call Me Footnote 42

At least the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties managed to spell my name right, unlike some. From their report on the Au/US FTA:

16.39 The arguments presented to the Committee centred around the balance between users and owners in the Copyright Act 1968, and the change in balance under the obligations in the AUSFTA. One submission noted

The primary balance provided by the United States to its citizens against strong IP rights is a broad exemption for ‘fair use’ of works…It has the benefit of coping far more flexibly with new technologies…42

So Australians will hopefully soon get the right to legally tape shows for later viewing and to make mp3s of CDs they’ve bought. Who says bad treaties can’t be useful?

They also make a recommendation that at least partially defangs the anti-circumvention provisions; though it’s not entirely clear to what extent. As always, Kim Weatherall has more. There’s also an interim report from the Senate committee — which is really two reports one on why the FTA sucks, and another from the government senators rebutting that, and the initial round of implementing legislation (which has lots of IP stuff, but not the really interesting IP stuff).

The JSCT report notes that as far as IP is concerned, the agreement was drafted the way it has been “to ensure consistency with the US template approach to its free trade agreements.” So heads up to anyone who wants to avoid the DMCA and has a government that might consider negotiating with the US over better trade deals; you’re going to be going through the exact same stuff pretty soon. (Open source trade negotiations: don’t start from scratch, instead take our successes and build on them, and take our failures and fix them)

Thanks to Greg Black for prompting me to check up on what’s been happening on all this.

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