Links for 10 November 2008 through 13 November 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 10 November 2008 through 13 November 2008, greased up and wearing a beanie:

Crikey: The inflated cost of illegally copied DVDs

Crikey logo

[This article was first published in Crikey on Monday. I’ve also added the comment and additional material which were published yesterday.]

Hurrah! The War on Terror is over! Well, at least it seems we’re no longer afraid of terrorists, because when Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus warned that illegally copying DVDs costs the industry $1.7 billion, for a change terrorism didn’t get a mention.

Major distributors have been trying to scare us off illegal copying for years. Australia’s laws were “harmonised” under the US Free Trade Agreement so copyright infringement became a crime. Gloomy doom-music-laden messages play before every movie. Serious people tell us that “piracy funds terrorism”.

“The Abu Sayyaf — blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the South-East Asian country — are likely behind the illegal copying of movies onto DVDs,” reckons Edu Manzano, chairman of the Philippines’ Optical Media Board.

“The Yakuza are behind them in Japan and the Hezbollah are involved in the Middle East,” though he admits they lack “documentary evidence”.

Bob Debus’ weekend media release omits the “piracy funds terrorism” trope, saying instead that it funds “a range of criminal activity like drug trafficking and money laundering”. (Hang on, isn’t money laundering self-funding?) But by the time the story hit the ABC the government’s current bogeyman had been added to the list: child pornography. Ooh err.

Continue reading “Crikey: The inflated cost of illegally copied DVDs”

Govt Internet filtering plan “quarter-baked, at best”

Photograph of Irene Graham

Free speech campaigner Irene Graham (pictured) has updated her page on the Australian government’s Internet filtering plan.

Very little detail has been made publicly available, although the Labor Party (ALP) announced a mandatory ISP filtering policy in 20 March 2006. Two years later, all indications are that their “plan” is still quarter-baked at best.

A good non-technical summary, opening with a great quote:

“[P]reventing information flow, communication or the exchange of art, film and writing on the internet is a task only King Canute would attempt.”
— Bob Debus, (then) NSW Attorney General, Speech at the OFLC International Ratings Conference 2003.

Ms Graham also has a quick world tour of Internet blocking. For a good technical summary, Electronic Frontiers Australia’s paper is still one of the best.