Australian Govt enacts bizarre copyright law

The Australian Goverment has finally enacted “fair use” amendments to the copyright act but in a bizarre and unexpected twist recordings can only be watched once after which they must be destroyed.

Sure you’ll no longer be a criminal every time you hit the record button on your VCR (or PVR) but if you want to watch a TV program twice it’s a criminal record for you baby.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock’s new reforms to the Copyright Act announced Sunday 14 May will see sweeping changes to the legislation. But Ruddock and his department are asking for Mission Impossible type recordings: after a single watch they must self-destruct (or be destructed).

Given the reforms’ aim to keep “pace with technology” we hate to break it to you Phil but well sorry – you haven’t quite got there.

In fact while you can see where the Government’s trying to go with this the proposed amendments – in the ordinary consumer sphere at least – have a somewhat laughable quality to them.

See the laws – with regard to copyright infringement – are getting a little shake-up; they’re letting their hair down a bit. But before you break out that big inflatable beach ball bear in mind that they’re not getting all that relaxed. The new laws are still somewhat tetchy. They feel like laws which could (and will) be easily irritated. But don’t take my word for it. I’ll let a few of the more ridiculous excerpts from the Attorney-General Department’s own FAQ spell the rest out for you:

Q: Does this mean I can record my favourite television or radio program to enjoy later?

Yes. For the first time you will be able to record most television or radio program at home to enjoy at a later time. This will allow you to watch or listen to a program as it was made available to the public at the time of the original broadcast.

Q: How long can I keep the recording?

The recording must be deleted after one use. It will not be possible to use the recording over and over again.

Q: Can I make a collection of copied television and radio programs?

No. You will not be able to burn a collection (or library) of your favourite programs on DVD or CD to keep. (It will be permitted to record a program on DVD or CD but only temporarily until you watch or listen to it for the first time.)

Q: What can I do with recorded programs?

You can watch or listen to the recording with your family or friends. It will not be permitted to sell or hire a recording or to play it at school or work or in any kind of public audience.

Q: Can I give a recording I have made to a friend?

No. A recording is for the personal use of the person who made it. You can invite a friend over to watch or listen to your recording but you can’t lend or give it to a friend to take home with them.

Hold the phone – don’t cancel that Simpsons marathon just yet; it looks like it just might be OK after all (but only if you haven’t seen those episodes before).