Talking Google’s defamation loss on ABC 702 Sydney

A Melbourne man’s successful defamation suit against Google has been one of the big “technology” news stories this week. I wrote about it for Crikey yesterday, and spoke about it on the radio.

The Crikey piece, “Google defames us all, but should we sue?”, is currently behind their paywall, though you can sign up for a 21-day free trial. It will emerge from the paywall in two weeks.

In it I argue that we may need a new legal category for online conversations, something that’s obviously not private but also not as formal as “publication”. I’ll come back to that theme once you can all see the story for free, you cheapskates.

Yesterday afternoon I briefly outlined the case to Richard Glover on ABC 702 Sydney. And here’s the audio.


The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.

Talking Facebook pay-for-highlighting on ABC 702 Sydney

While the Facebook IPO Roadshow rolls on, the company is trying a bunch of experiments — both to search for new revenue streams and to maintain the buzz. One of them is paying $2 to have your post highlighted.

The numbers in the story don’t surprise me. Typically a Facebook user’s posts are only seen by around 12% of their followers, depending on whether Facebook’s secret-sauce algorithm decides whether you’re a sufficiently close friend or the topic is of sufficient interest to the viewer.

Why not let people pay money to change that?

I could tell from the tone of his voice that ABC 702 Sydney host Richard Glover did not approve.


The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.

Talking the #iiTrial decision on ABC 702 Sydney

The big internet-related story in Australia today was the High Court’s decision in the so-called #iiTrial. I wrote the lead story in Crikey — read that now for the facts and my analysis — and just spoke about it on ABC 702 Sydney.

The High Court decided, as outlined in its summary [PDF], that internet service provider iiNet was not responsible for the copyright-infringing acts of its customers. But as explained in their full decision, that decision was based on “all the facts of the case”. That is, things might have turned out differently had the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) or iiNet handled things differently. We’ll never know.

Since I wrote for Crikey, my ZDNet Australia colleague Josh Taylor has been tracking the reactions. I daresay there’ll be more to come across the weekend.

Now when I spoke to the ABC’s Richard Glover just after the 4pm news this afternoon — that’s the audio you’ll hear here — the scene was set first by Glover’s slightly-misleading introduction involving pubs and then AFACT’s managing director Neil Gane. So I was working within that framing. I’m not sure how well I did.


Obviously time was limited. Had I had more time to speak, I would have said:

  • We do keep talking about the experience of the music industry, but that’s because they’re further down the path of replacing traditional distribution mechanisms with the internet. It might be worth the film and TV industries having a look at that and seeing what they can learn, rather than just being in denial.
  • Yes, the economics of making a big blockbuster movie are very different from making a music album. But the film industry decided to take the blockbuster path with all the expensive hangers-on that that business model entails. No-one is forcing them to do it that way.
  • With distribution costs tending to zero, those who run the traditional distribution models need one heck of a lot better argument to justify the amount of money they charge than “Oh no, it’s all different now”.
  • They talk about the industry being in decline, but that’s because they only count themselves. As a totality, people probably spend more on entertainment than they ever have done. It’s like the Myer and David Jones and Harvey Norman stores whinging about the decline of retail. No, retail overall is doing just fine. The bit that’s failing is them — the people doing things the same old way and not adapting to the change.
  • No business model has a right to exist. Maybe the age of big movies and big TV productions is over. It wouldn’t be the first time a form of entertainment had died because it was no longer viable, and it wouldn’t be the last.

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.