The Internet Industry Association has launched a last-minute attack on the Government’s changes to copyright law, currently set to become law in mid-December and to take effect on January 1. Under the new laws resellers custom installers and consumers could find themselves in breach of the proposed laws.


The changes are being rushed through Parliament and risk making criminals out of everyday Australians, the association warned in a media release yesterday

IIA chief Peter Coroneos said the law endangers the Internet industry with new criminal offence provisions in areas like distribution, potentially exposing ISPs, content hosts, search engines and “anyone with a network” to penalties.

“In addition, we have identified quite a few breaches that will occur through the use of 3G phones, not to mention the possession of devices for digital copying – including, wait for it, computers,” said Coroneos.

Coroneos claimed a family that holds a birthday picnic in a place of public entertainment (for example, the grounds of a zoo) and sings Happy Birthday loudly enough that it can be heard by others risks an infringement notice carrying a fine of up to $1320.

” If they make a video recording of the event, they risk a further fine for the possession of a device for the purpose of making an infringing copy of a song,” he said. “And if they go home and upload the clip to the Internet where it can be accessed by others, they risk a further fine of up to $1320 for illegal distribution.”

(CDN was incredulous that any copyright could exist over Happy Birthday, but a search on Google last night suggested otherwise: one Jessica Hill published and copyrighted Happy Birthday in the US in 1935. Under US law, copyright ­ at least on the words; the melody may be public domain – has been extended to 2030 and is currently held by Time Warner, which scores an estimated US$2 million a year in royalties ).

‘This is overkill’

Said Coroneos yesterday: “We fully understand the need to protect copyright the Internet needs content and content creators need incentives to create.But these amendments are overkill and risk delivering a host of unintended consequences at a time when no other country in the world has criminal sanctions for non-commercial scale infringements.”

“We are at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law.”

The IIA next week plans give other examples of problems faced by the industry and the public.

The Bill passed the House of Representatives last week.


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