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More Australian Insanity: Forwarding Mail Illegal (updated)

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the what-with-the-world-upside-down-n'-all dept.

The Courts 256

lpontiac writes: "People have been making noise about the new Australian copyright laws making web caching and Playstation mod chips illegal ... and now, the Australian attorney-general has come out and stated that the new laws also make it illegal to forward email without the explicit (ie written) permission of the person who wrote the email. (Just as surprising to me is that the article claims to know who Claire Swire is :)" Update: 03/04 11:22 PM by T : kipling writes "Regarding the Australian e-mail copyright story, the ABC news site says that the Australian Attorney-General has dismissed these claims. Looks like another news ltd beatup." Update: 03/05 02:55 AM by T : And thanks to downunderrob, here is the AG's press release calling the idea "ridiculous."

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Where I come from... (2)

Hater's Leaving, The (322238) | more than 13 years ago | (#385896)

It's always been impolite, or bad etiquette, to forward emails in full or in part.
I'd be tempted to say that it always has been illegal, due to the fact that the original author has copyright whether or not he/she explicitly says so. Any legal sharps out there conform or deny that?
However, will they make eating peas by shovelling them onto your fork illegal next?


What's next on the hit list? (flamish) (1)

TVmisGuided (151197) | more than 13 years ago | (#385897)

Okay, so nobody in Australia can forward email without permission...there goes a lot of things like a tech-support rep forwarding a sticky question or problem from a customer to their second-tier people. Especially (heaven forbid!) if it includes a screenshot of the error message.

What's going to be targeted next? Blogging with embedded links or images? (I know, some people would say "big fscking deal", but to others, it IS a big fscking deal...think about it!) Web pages that generate email to their operators, like feedback forms or catalog requests?

IMHO the Australian government, with this one piece of legislature, has both insured that their country stays unnecessarily insular AND set a very dangerous precedent for other governments to look at.

Just my 2c (US) worth...donate the change to your sysadmin's Vegemite fund.

Corporate Precedent? (1)

Hegemony Cricket (257177) | more than 13 years ago | (#385898)

Screw the repurcussions of forwarding love letters or meat pie recipes...with this legal bit in their belt expect Aussie corporations to even more agressively pursue individuals who forward the "The Manager of Company X Hates All of You" memos.

I'm terrified to think of what form the US appropriation of all this legislation (rating systems, anti-mod, copyrighted forwarding) will take.

Sen. Tankerbell: "Well look at all of this handy dandy law making a goin' on Down Under. They've done all the writin' for me, and most of it's in Amurican!"


Re:Can you say GPL? (1)

MacBoy (30701) | more than 13 years ago | (#385915)

Not true.
A person always implicitly holds a copyright to something that they create as soon as they create it.

The burden is lifted.... (3)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 13 years ago | (#385916)

Finally, bad spellers and the grammatically incorrect are protected by law. No longer need they fear being mocked and ridiculed forever in a never-ending flood of forwarded e-mails they have destroyed so eloquently. I applaud Australia for taking a stand for the dignity of the CmdrTacos of the world.

Who's behind this? (1)

hokie93 (249796) | more than 13 years ago | (#385918)

My guess is that the joke industry has been crushed by the Internet and what to stop all the massive joke emails. So I guess forwarding, printing, or telling a joke in public is now illegal without the express written permission of the joke author. The stupid thing is I wouldn't be suprised if the DMCA can be interpreted the same way. Discliamer: The contents of this posting are copyrighted by me and can not be reproduced in part or in whole without express written permission. Fair use rights may apply but you will have to talk to an attorney about that. G'day

Mailing lists (1)

awx (169546) | more than 13 years ago | (#385920)

What about those of us on mailing lists that automatically forward email from you to many other memebers? What about those mailing lists that archive the emails and put them up on a website for quick and easy reference?


Australia: The Stupid Continent (1)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 13 years ago | (#385922)

What's going on down there? Is it Mad Cow Disease?

Re:Oh gee (3)

litheum (242650) | more than 13 years ago | (#385924)

Better than that, you can report the bastards that send you the forwards and have them arrested!

Re:Aussies wierd. (1)

spaceon (264645) | more than 13 years ago | (#385926)

Damn, it's getting to the stage where it's embarassing to own up to being an Aussie on IRC...

Maybe I should just say I'm from Austria instead...

Gee, there goes my income... (1)

zoomba (227393) | more than 13 years ago | (#385928)

Now I can't get any of those "get rich quick" emails from my aussie compatriots... how will I support myself? I guess that also means I wont get any more of those joke emails that have been circulating since time began from my aussie friends.

Damn the Australian government! Because of them I will be reduced to a humo[u]rless bankrupt geek!


What?? (5)

number one duck (319827) | more than 13 years ago | (#385939)

And in related news, showing (paper) birthday cards to your friends and family after you recieve them is ruled an offense, as well as telling anyone about an email you recieved, or reading your email in a public place, or... or....

Can you say GPL? (1)

VFVTHUNTER (66253) | more than 13 years ago | (#385942)

I don't think so. Linus owns the copyright on linux because he explcitly includes the copyright in the tarball. So unless someone prefaces a message to you with a copyright notice, you can forward away.

Security... (4)

JiffyPop (318506) | more than 13 years ago | (#385945)

Apparently the aussie government is os the opinion that the web will only be safe and secure for copyrighted works when it is completely useless.

How much longer until... (2)

NineNine (235196) | more than 13 years ago | (#385949)

Australia starts acting like China and reading their citizen's emails, checking for 'inappropriate material'?
Australia starts packet sniffing?
Australia requires all traffic to go through a central server farm, so they can control everything going in and coming out?
Australia filters web sites?

Scary stuff. I'm a developer who was considering moving to Australia soon. This is enough to make sure that I don't move there until they stop passing Draconian laws.

FW: Changing the button name fixes this problem (3)

xFoz (231025) | more than 13 years ago | (#385950)

from the feature creep department...

>All we have to do is change the name on the button
>from "Foward" to "Quote"
>and then nobody is breaking any laws.

Any Aussies here? (2)

stevens (84346) | more than 13 years ago | (#385951)

Does the Australian government know they're quickly making their country into a laughingstock?

Given how future prosperity will depend on technology to an increasing extent, why are they trying to ensure the emigration of all their geeks?

Can any Australians here offer insight on the political climate that has created this shortsightedness? Why are they doing this?

Like some sort of futurist terror short story (2)

MattW (97290) | more than 13 years ago | (#385952)

I think a lot of us has read some of the little half-funny half-scary short stories, mostly speculative bits about what the future could be like. We probably all remember the guy that let his poor girlfriend sneak a peak at his textbooks, even though it was likely to cost him jail time (but didn't). We recently got to read speculation here on the future as affected by the Napster decision.

I have to say -- this whole situation reads like that. If back in 1998, someone wrote one of these, and said, "...and so people were jailed for forwarding jokes without permission...", it would have seemed funny. Now, it is a mournful day in a world where legislators make laws seemingly without regard to the lives of the people they serve.

More information (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 13 years ago | (#385953)

The Register [] on 2 March 2001

Isn't it already the case? (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 13 years ago | (#385954)

Of course you can't forward a mail without permission from the author! That's what copyright is about! An electronic mail, just as any piece of writing, is subject to copyright. If I send you one, under copyright laws, you may no more give away copies without my consent than if I had given you my latest manuscript. OTOH, you can use a reasonable portion of my text to quote me, or even make a parody, under fair use. This is ages old. Why is everybody acting outraged?

The only problem I would see would be the degree of required consent. What about messages on public forums, for instance? IANA(A)L but I'd say that the author of a news article implicitly agrees that his article will be copied and distributed on news servers all over the world; for a message on a WWW-forum it could be more troublesome but one could expect it to be replicated on caches. Only there could there be abusive restrictions due to a too-stringent interpretation of copyright.

Unless you want to challenge current copyright laws themselves; and there is reason to IMO, but that's another story.

I really hope he's right (2)

Rupert (28001) | more than 13 years ago | (#385955)

and I hope he throws someone in jail for 6 years for the heinous crime of forwarding an email. Then maybe we'll get stupid laws like this one thrown out.

Come on. No substantial copyright exists in any work of less than 200 words, because that's the limit for an excerpt under fair use.

A colleague forwarded to me yesterday an email from his wife in which she derided overclockers in general and her husband in particular. Now not only is he in trouble for shagging their PC, he's violated her copyright, too.


a scenario (1)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#385956)

Judge: You've been charged with illegally forwarding an email.
Defendant: But I had express written permission.
Judge: Let's see this written permission.
Defendant: I can't show it to you. I didn't get permission to forward it on.
Non-meta-modded "Overrated" mods are killing Slashdot

The simple answer.... (3)

Daemosthenes (199490) | more than 13 years ago | (#385957)

There is a simple way to get around this rule. That is, one only has to attach a notice in your sig, allowing anyone to forward your message. For example:

Joe H. Schmoe
*I hereby give you written permission to forward this message*

Something as simple as that would work, even though I'm not so sure how well it would hold up in court.

silly silly (1)

psin psycle (118560) | more than 13 years ago | (#385958)

A conversation between two people is not copyright, because it is not in a format that has been made permanent. Similarly, the acting out of a play is only protected if it has been written down or recorded in some way.

An email, while being writted down, is not in a permanend form. ei) It is not expected that the person who sent the email will keep a copy for more than a few weeks (until the sent mail is emptied out). It is also not expected that the person receiving the email will keep it for very long either. Possibly only long enough to read it and delete it. Despite not being a lawyer, I would have to say that email doesn't, and shouldn't, fall under the list of works that can, by default, be protected by copyright.

However, it is entirely possible that I may want to email you something that I want to retain the copyright on. In this case, I should have to explicitly state, at the top of the email, much like on a book, that the email is copyright blah blah blah.

Further more, copyright law states that there are cases where you can force a copyright owner to allow you to redistribute a work. If the work is not made available to the public on reasonable terms, you can request (from the copyright board or something) to be able to redistribute that work. They will set any royalties or licensing fees that you will have to pay the owner of the copyright.

Note: I am a Canadian, speaking about US law in response to a story on Australian law. My only knowledge of US copyright law is two copyright-for-the-layman type books that I have read in my spare time. Please feel free to correct any of my "facts"

Note 2: You can freely reproduce this work blah blah blah. :)

Mailing lists? (1)

Refried Beans (70083) | more than 13 years ago | (#385983)

So what's the deal with a mailing list? Will mailing list software need to email back each poster and ask if it's alright to forward the email to all the people subscribed to the list? I hope there is implicit permission when you send an email to a mailing list.

Re:How much longer until... (1)

CSG_SurferDude (96615) | more than 13 years ago | (#385984)

Look at New Zealand. Much less Anal about things, and lotsa pubs too! I'd put up a link, but I don't feel like being a Karma Whore this afternoon.

Funny (2)

LaNMaN2000 (173615) | more than 13 years ago | (#385985)

This is absolutely hilarious. If I receive a snail-mail letter, I am free to do whatever I wish with it. The author cannot use copyright to prevent me from putting that letter in my neighbor's mailbox, throwing it out, or using it as toilet paper. The problem is that legislators are exploiting the fact that there is no tangible manifestation of an e-mail to create rediculous laws that are far more restrictive than anything that governs the use of physical property, like a letter.


New commercial (5)

brianvan (42539) | more than 13 years ago | (#385986)

Guy sitting at computer... In the background you hear "You've Got Mail!"... close up of computer screen, at least 150 messages in his Inbox. He hits the forward button, selects all 50 people in his address book, and hits the send button. Immediately, a kangaroo with boxing gloves appears and knocks the living daylights out of the guy.

Word appears at bottom: "SPAM"

Foster's beer bottle shown: "BEEEAAAH!"

"Foster's. Austrailian for BEEEAAAH!"

I see a problem... (1)

B14ckH013Sur4 (234255) | more than 13 years ago | (#385987)

What about the archiving of things like LUG mailing lists?

Bugger! (1)

Mdog (25508) | more than 13 years ago | (#385988)

These blokes have gone full blommin' mad!

The Good and the Bad (1)

tsetem (59788) | more than 13 years ago | (#385989)

The good news is, now you can include in all of your messages "The receiver does not have my consent to forward this message". Does that mean that any discussion of this e-mail is heresay? And if the mail is forwarded, does this equate to wiretapping (ie: Linda Tripp tape recording Monica, and releasing the tapes?)

Now the bad would be internal business e-mail(maybe not so bad). I've seen e-mails sent from Jane, forwarded to John, and the stuck in my e -mail bin. Jane must now give permission to John. John has to give permission to someone else, and then I need to get permission if I'm going to forward that e-mail.

Should businesses be responsible for getting permission from the originator of the e-mail? Will this be something added to employee's contracts? "I hereby give my life to you, and you may forward my e-mails by default".

Here's another thought, Jane sends e-mail to John, John gets permission and sends it to me. Do I need to get permission from both Jane & John to forward it on, or only John's permission?

Talk about opening a big ole can of worms.

So what is the logical next step? (3)

Mossfoot (310128) | more than 13 years ago | (#386010)

Could it be that emails will be sifted to search for copyright hotwords like Coca Cola? Anyone using Coca Cola will automatically have a royalty charge applied to their account?

Here's a funny scenario. Say there is an e-mail scam going on. Someone is sending e-mails that promise a good thing, and after reading it, you fear that some foolish people are going to fall for it and lose their life savings. So you send out a warning email, using the body of the text to help people recognize it, as well as demonstrate the hows and whys of it being a scam.

Theoretically YOU could be fined for doing a public service.

On a lighter note... what if I emailed something, lost the original, and wanted to send it off to some other people. I go to a friend and ask them to bring it up in their account, and then I email it off to other people... do I have to get written signed permission from myself? :)

Re:Digital Versus Real (2)

Husaria (262766) | more than 13 years ago | (#386011)

Actually, how do you think the Reformation (which as we know, changed history)started? It took years for a Bible to be written, while a printing press dramatically cut down print Bibles, tracts could be written much quicker, (but still slow compared to our times) As for the insane laws, there are ways to circumvent them enough and we can tie them up in courts for years... This is why we should have elected Gore the Bore, Georgy Jr will just allow the coporations and the government take over the Net which was meant for us all to be used.

how NOT to attract talent to Australia. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#386012)

As an IT professional that had once considered moving to Australia, I can assure you that with this kind of mad hatter legislation will prevent me from ever moving there. I hope the Australian gov't enjoys living in the Infomation Dark Ages. I can't believe they would put their citizens in PRISON for forwarding an email. I thought this was a joke, but I guess this is just another example of the paranoid behaviour of a gov't afraid of FREE SPEECH. U.S.A. and DMCA beware. Limiting free speech is wrong.

Re:I really hope he's right (1)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#386013)

> Come on. No substantial copyright exists in any
> work of less than 200 words, because that's the
> limit for an excerpt under fair use.

So are you saying that most poems cannot be copyrighted? Jabberwocky [] is a decent sized poem (seven verses), yet it is only 164 words long. Are you saying that Lewis Carroll can't maintain copyright on it?

It's official... (1)

shd99004 (317968) | more than 13 years ago | (#386014)

...lawyers have run out of things to do.

I believe that everyone has the right to quote, for "fair use".
I also know, that the mail, when reached it's recipient, is the property of that recipient.
Can't you use and quote text from your own property?
I can not imagine that Australia really would have so different laws to many other countries in this matter?

Re:Oh gee (4)

dattaway (3088) | more than 13 years ago | (#386015)

Simply forward the offending attachment to abuse@isp, and the prosecutor's office will be contacting you shortly about *your* case.

Re:Like some sort of futurist terror short story (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 13 years ago | (#386016)

Someone needs to pay for this. The politician who passed this law, and all of those who support it, should be jailed for 5 years, and pay $60k, so they realize what a significant impact on a human life such a penalty imposes.

Sometimes I get the feeling that the "more equal" citizens of the world think they're playing some big real-life game like age of empires (poking a citizen and making them do something) - completely detached from the people they're hurting.

All men are great
before declaring war

Re:Any Aussies here? (1)

OmegaDan (101255) | more than 13 years ago | (#386017)

IANA (australian) but my guess is the good people of australia are probably reasonable people ... They've just got bad leadership like most of the rest of the world ...

Think about what a joke clinton made the US look like with scandal after scandal after scandal ... he couldn't even not fuck up on his LAST day in office ... still I wouldn't blame us americans for it.

the australian government obviously has some end goal they aren't letting anyone in on. Probably bought and paid for by corporations :)

side notes (2)

shunryu (321987) | more than 13 years ago | (#386018)

The illegality stems from breaching the copyright held by the person who originally wrote the e-mail.

So does this pertain to someone who has included a copyright clause in their email or will the Australian government just conclude on their own the thoughts of the people whose email is in question.

"It's quite possible that the forwarding of an e-mail could be a technical infringement of copyright," Mr Williams' legal adviser told The Sunday Telegraph.

Again, this seems to be a broad law created possibly in hopes of deterring people from forwarding an email and delves into perhaps placing a link on a website. The people of Australia should do something against their politicias who seem to want to take away their right to free speech. Suppose your a reporter and have some very good information regarding an article, will you get sued or thrown in jail for quoting something, or linking to a site to prove a point, or make a statement?

The new measures cover material which already has copyright protection -- such as excerpts from books or song lyrics -- as well as personal messages.

I guess I can no longer email my friends down under with any links or quotes to something I've seen or read, or heard, since they can face time for looking at it should they innocently reply back with the copy of the message I originally sent them.

This means a simple message about office gossip, holiday plans or a new romance carries personal copyright and the recipient has no right to forward it without permission.

Bill Clinton would have liked this law ;)

Internet Industry Association executive director Peter Coroneos said forwarding e-mail had probably always involved a technical breach of copyright, adding: "It's a matter of whether the authors themselves are likely to be concerned.

He urged people sending e-mail to spell out whether they gave permission for the content to be forwarded to others.
Well, someone shed some light on this, it is of a concern of the author not government in this matter, however a law is a law is a law.


down under []

Stop calling it "real" then (2)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 13 years ago | (#386019)

By saying that the non digital part of the world is "the real world", you're implying that the digital part of the world is not real. That expresses the view that digital and more traditional medias are completely different. Which is the view you say you want to fight!

Free your mind!

Re:Aussies wierd. (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 13 years ago | (#386020)

At least Aussies don't elect fascists

Re:What?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#386021)

I was serriously thinking about going abraod to Au for schooling in the tech area, to meet new people, and such. But, frankly, now I'm afraid that they will put a feaking dome around the continent, and cut the cables to foreign nations, and implant everyone with "V" chips.

Um...I'm playing a pirated computer game...*ZAP*

Re:Stop calling it "real" then (1)

Digitalia (127982) | more than 13 years ago | (#386022)

Yes but for the sake of simplifying my arguments such that many headaches would be avoided, it was necessary to do so.

Use Encryption! (1)

ajuda (124386) | more than 13 years ago | (#386023)

Why is everyone is upset about the government sniffing their email when they can just use GPG? I would love to see the internet come to a full stop as the Aussies enlist the help of for each email to verify compliance.
This message was encrypted with rot-26 cryptography.

Re:I really hope he's right (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 13 years ago | (#386024)

Come on. No substantial copyright exists in any work of less than 200 words, because that's the limit for an excerpt under fair use.

Forget about all that. Let's just use common sense in the courtroom. The question is simple:

Would the reasonable person expect that forwarding the email in question was in breach of copyright? Was the material sensitive (confidential / private)? Was the plaintiff (if it's a civil case) injured/damaged, or likely to be? Did the email represent significant commercial value? Etc.

I propose that permission to forward email is given by default and must be explicitly denied, or be obviously (to the reasonable person) denied (because it fits one of the categories above).

Life is not binary. There is no 1/0, clearcut answer to anything, and laws like this make me livid. As I said earlier, I want everyone who approves of this law as it is (suggested to be) written to spend 5 years in jail, and pay $60k, so they realize how serious these penalties are. Maybe then they would think twice before supporting offensive laws like this.

All men are great
before declaring war

"Claims to know who Claire Swire is"? (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 13 years ago | (#386047)

What's so surprising about that? There've only been a ton of articles mentioning the situation so far. This your first time to read a newspaper or something?


Re:I really hope he's right (1)

cheese_wallet (88279) | more than 13 years ago | (#386048)

I think he is saying that you can copy and repost jabberwocky to your hearts content, and if you properly credit the author, you are in the clear and don't need permission. (because it is less than 200 words.

What else would you expect... (1)

ByTor-2112 (313205) | more than 13 years ago | (#386049)

from a country that has banned guns.

Re:Turmoil down under! (1)

DrQu+xum (218745) | more than 13 years ago | (#386050)

No email, no "unclean" sites, no web radio, no TV, no music. None of it. Where's the market?

For the server vendors to make firewalls/filters/sniffers for all links coming into Australia. The government would pro'lly buy MILLION$ worth of equipment and run Win2k on it to sniff every packet going into/coming out of the country.

Easily circumventable. :)

But who's to say there won't be a Net Gestapo to go around to all the companies and universities to snoop around the server room and grab a copy of the logs? (Forgive me for any ignorance of any existing Australian laws, but the government's ignorance must rank above mine.)

Thus sprach DrQu+xum.

Copy Right Gossip? (1)

Big Torque (196609) | more than 13 years ago | (#386051)

This is one more reason to limit copy right to selling and unfair competition practices not sharing. If you do not want to have an email shared then do not send it, talk to the person on the phone or in person. But there is the danger of the person will tell everyone what you said. Imagine that gossip being a problem. Next they will try to make it a copyright violation to repeat what people say without their permission after all it is already considered plagiarism if you don't say where a statement comes from, we are almost there. This is all going down hill very fast, we as a society may have to hit rock bottom with IP laws before the world finally sees what we all have lost and start the very long and hard road to trying to get it back.

Spam spam spam spam lovely spaaam wonderful spaaam (1)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | more than 13 years ago | (#386052)

So, I spam the bloody hell out of Australia.

And I get LARTed.

I then sue the John Does who LARTed me, subpoena my ISP for their names, and make a killing.

Who says you can't MAKE MONEY FAST?
Ooh, moderator points! Five more idjits go to Minus One Hell!
Delenda est Windoze

Re:Digital Versus Real (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 13 years ago | (#386054)

This is why we should have elected Gore the Bore, Georgy Jr will just allow the coporations and the government take over the Net which was meant for us all to be used.
You didn't elect GUUB either.

Here's the original e-mail that started all this (1)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 13 years ago | (#386055)

Here's the link: l.html []

It looks like the article Slashdot linked to was misinformed. The e-mail doesn't talk about Brad's sexual prowess at all...


Re:How much longer until... (2)

jeffsenter (95083) | more than 13 years ago | (#386056)

You should actually email a couple members of the Australian gov't about your decision and the reasoning. If the Australia gov't finds out that they are not able to attract tech talent because they have some of the stupidest laws in world, they may reconsider. Money talks.

Re:The simple answer.... (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 13 years ago | (#386057)

*I hereby give you written permission to forward this message*

This "permission" is and always has been implied when sending email, unless explicitly denied.

In otherwords, if you're sending email which you don't want forwarded (because 99.995% of sent around the world don't carry this bit), it is your responsibility to state so.

This email is confidential/proprietary/personal, and the receiver is not authorized to forward it to any external entity.

There, that was easy - and people have been doing this for years. And note, that you cannot deny forwarding completely, because under fair use rights (in the US & Canada) one has the inherent right to copy for personal use (forwarding to a different account).

All men are great
before declaring war

Copyright, Berne Convention, and Email (2)

not_the_resurrection (228139) | more than 13 years ago | (#386058)

There are times when you'd rather not have your email forwarded. That's what copyright is all about and in most cases [http] it should deter others from re-distributing private correspondence.

whatiscopyright []

is a good overview too.

So who want to inform the australian government...

Re:Here's the original e-mail that started all thi (1)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 13 years ago | (#386059)

Oops... spoke to soon. Scroll down for the whole thread!


Re:Digital Versus Real (3)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#386060)

That is the real problem. There was a time, not so long ago (er, ca 1992 or 3) when information was rapidly being freed and it could not be stopped so it roamed the world unfettered and unencumbered. Of course, that was when only the technologically savvy could access this information and the great unwashed masses couldn't. So there wasn't a problem because it was obscure to those in power: they didn't get it.

Now, ten years later, when they Do understand the intrinsic power of information, they feel they must control the flow and broker each and every transaction between all people on the net (that is, in fact, MS's plan - .NET - to act as broker between each digital transaction).

This is an informational war between the people of the world and basically corporations of the world (governments playing puppet to the corporate whim). The instrument of control is the Law. The legislators and lawyers are going to find it extremely difficult to control informational flow, but we are seeing - real time! every day something new! - the fruits of their labors: horrible and unenforcable laws that basically make each and every citizen a criminal. Once everyone is a criminal, then all of their liberties are endangered, and they must skulk around, fearful of being caught.

The only difference that I can see between Winston Smith's sad little grey world and this one is that people don't seem to have the zeal to rat out their neighbors, no one is wearing a red sash. Wait, correct that, I forgot about the model for the (forget what Orwell called them) guys who turn in their neighbors: the Religious Right and Christian Conservatives here in America. Already drug laws have turned half a nation into criminals.

Now another large chunk will be criminalized - sorry, has been criminalized. Napster-users, anyone who ever burned a disk containing MS Office and gave it to a friend. Basically, an entire nation of criminals, at risk and fearful of exposure. This serves the regime well.

The reason there will not be reform is that legislators are no longer servants of the people, if they ever were. No, the people are not vested in their country. Not in England where by some strange brainwashing technique (a la 1984) they Act like the Parliament is their friend, not in America where we know the story but admit powerlessness and the inability to organize except to continue to oppress Ourselves (MADD, African_American Rights Moevments, et al), and apparently not in Australia, which probably follows a British model.

The only power a people are left with is the power to revolt. And at least in America, those in power are preparing for that eventuality, when they get to crush (a la the WTO riot in Seattle) the small Goldstein (Stallman?) rebellion once and for all. The maser would be a really good weapon for that, wouldn't it? SWAT teams with masers and stun guns and tear gas... oh my!

But, my God! So many criminals, criminalized by such an oppressive regime!

Believe me, you don't want to see a Bastille Day, where the streets ran red with the blood of the aristocracy. And so ordinary people who have not girded their loins and prepared for the moment will lose their nerve at the critical hour.

But those who have been planning this moment know what to do. They are seizing the day right now, and will continue to do it forever. Recall that 1984 wasn't about crushing a rebellion forever. It was about warring with people day after day.

er, sorry so long, but that's how I feel.

Oh gee (4)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#386063)

I can't forward around that chain mail that my 12-18 year old brothers, sisters, and compatriots keep sending me. That sucks.

Turmoil down under! (3)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#386067)

So much for a technological renaissance in Australia. You can't even forward e-mails or cache webpages anymore.

But then again, who will be only too happy to enforce all of this? Constable Microsoft, that's who.

I swear, if I ever get a chance, I'll have the DeCSS source code engraved on a metal breastplate and shield and become the anti-MPAA knight.

Thought... (1)

bamberg29 (240460) | more than 13 years ago | (#386070)

Let me guess, linking to is illegal too?

how about slashdot postings? (1)

snake_dad (311844) | more than 13 years ago | (#386072)

Do we need to include authorization for Australian users to copy or forward our messages from ./ ?

what are the odds (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#386074)

that this will at least prevent all that annoying chain mail?

i usually end my mass emails to my friends with "forward this to whoever i left off, and plz remind me of their email addys." but that's usually like, happy new year, or i'm taking this class next semester, or yo we're meeting on saturday night, etc. if i sent one email to one guy and it was a direct communication to someone, it's kinda rude for that person to just forward it to anyone else, ne? it's like cutting and pasting the contents of one instant messaging conversation into another... at least ask before you do it. i know when someone's doing it to me cause i usually get a "lol" from a stranger and stuff.

the weird thing is: it shouldn't be illegal, it should just be a matter of courtesy. if all personal communication is copyrighted, then isn't forwarding it "fair use" or does that not apply?
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

What are the really after? (2)

MikeyO (99577) | more than 13 years ago | (#386082)

Do we really think that the Austrailian government is out to protects my copyright when I forward gossip to my sister? Or do we think they are trying to cut down on chain letters and spam?

Digital Versus Real (2)

Digitalia (127982) | more than 13 years ago | (#386086)

Why must the courts and legislatures of our world continue to think of computers as things foreign to traditional law? Why must they continue to make computer laws and decisions that would be considered unreasonable when applied to the real world? Computers are just another tool. With the printing press, there wasn't as much legal change. The monarchies and aristocracies of Europe feared it, but they could always have their troops smash a printing press. Computers and internets make the oligarchies and plutocracies of today shudder, though, because they can't do that. They have little control. They want control so they continue to pass insane laws.

They will not succeed.

It may not be so bad (1)

amanb (197498) | more than 13 years ago | (#386088)

It seems like its all about copyright issues, and not about spam and Internet bandwidth issues at all.
As long as the author of the original intends his email to be circulated (which often is the case), this really shouldn't bother anyone.

My worst nightmare is... (1)

Sizif (30870) | more than 13 years ago | (#386094)

hitting the forward button by accident. :o

Re:Digital Versus Real (2)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 13 years ago | (#386095)

To quote the late newspaper/yellow-journalism mogul, William Randolph Hearst:

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.

Well, now, it's suddenly possible for everyone to publish to a worldwide audience. This scares the hell out of politicans and Big Media alike.

What little hope for the future that I had is fading fast. :(


Re:Security... (3)

dr_labrat (15478) | more than 13 years ago | (#386096)

Actually I think the Aussie government wants to turn the net into Teletext.

Now we know... (1)

Kletus Cassidy (230405) | more than 13 years ago | (#386097)

...that Australian law makers definitely do not use the Internet. I only have two questions for them:
  1. How do they plan to enforce this when the original mailer or forwader is not Australian? Do they plan to push this forward as an international law or is it only valid when both the original mailer and forwarder are Australian?

  2. What happens if a mail is forwarded to me which has been forwarded several times (e.g. the Claire Swire letter) and the copyright notice allowing it to be distributed has been placed by the person who forwarded it to me but I notice that all the other forwarders have not attached any such notice. Am I violating the copyright of the gazillion people who have forwarded the chain letter who didn't place copyright notices or am I in the clear since the person who forwarded it to me gave me permission to forward it?

Damn, I feel dumber just having to ask such ridiculous questions. Yet they are valid if Digital Agenda Act is enforced to the letter of the law.

Email illegal in Auz (5)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#386098)

The ruling says that it's illegal to forward email because you're reproducing it without the author's express written permission.

What about SMTP relay? Each SMTP server along the way reproduces a copy of your email. Since you don't always know which SMTP servers it's going through, how can you give them express permission? You can't. Thus, email is illegal in Australia.

The obvious answer to this is that, when you send email, permission to copy it is implicitly given.

Australia vs. US (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 13 years ago | (#386099)

Welcome to the 2001 digital olympics!

Here, nations compete head-to-head to impose the most ridiculous pro-censorship/corporate laws on their citizens, without causing a revolt!

And oh! Looks like Australia takes the lead! Yep - the fans are eagerly awaiting the US's response. :)

All men are great
before declaring war

Re:What?? (2)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 13 years ago | (#386100)

And in related news, showing (paper) birthday cards to your friends and family after you recieve them is ruled an offense, as well as telling anyone about an email you recieved, or reading your email in a public place, or... or....

Damn right.


This message is for the named person's use only. It may contain confidential, proprietary or legally privileged information. No confidentiality or privilege is waived or lost by any mistransmission. If you receive this message in error, please immediately delete it and all copies of it from your system, destroy any hard copies of it and notify the sender. You must not, directly or indirectly, use, disclose, distribute, print, or copy any part of this message if you are not the intended recipient. [Huge MultiNational Company] and each of its subsidiaries each reserve the right to monitor all e-mail communications through its networks. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the message states otherwise and the sender is authorised to state them to be the views of any such entity. Unless otherwise stated, any pricing information given in this message is indicative only, is subject to change and does not constitute an offer to deal at any price quoted. Any reference to the terms of executed transactions should be treated as preliminary only and subject to our formal written confirmation.


At long last (1)

sonofepson (239138) | more than 13 years ago | (#386101)

Bill Gates, Walt Disney Jr and Nike will have a way to make money from their e-mail forwarding tracking software we have all heard so much about

and we thought they were fools for giving a $1000 dollars for each forward, they were just testing BETA.

Re:The simple answer.... (1)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#386102)

Man, when rules and laws are passed that are this rediculous and draconian, DON'T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THEM!!!

Now the lawyers have us writing fscking disclaimers for them! Jesus Christ Almighty!

...I'm not done. Ok, I'm done for the moment...

Re:Security... (2)

drsoran (979) | more than 13 years ago | (#386103)

Damnit this is intolerable! How dare the Australian government try to outdo our RIAA and MPAA as to who is more braindead! We suggest we all lobby Congress and suggest they add a $1 tax to each CD-R disc sold in the USA to try to jump back ahead.

Re:Oh gee (1)

macaddict (91085) | more than 13 years ago | (#386104)

Anyone want to take bets on how long before all your spam starts showing up from a .au address?

"This is not spam. Forwarding the copyrighted material in this e-mail to the originating ISP violates Australian law and will result in a fine of $60,000."

Don't get too excited over it. (2)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 13 years ago | (#386105)

Let's not forget that Australia is just a penal colony. Why should prisoners have the same rights as a free man? They were rightly disarmed a few year ago, and now their lines of communication are being cut to make them more isolated and easier to control. Nothing but good management on the Prime Warden's part.

I say that the things a man does to be sent to Botany Bay relieve society of any duty to respect his freedom.

Sure, you may say that a significant percentage of prisoners are merely descendants of criminals, but as anyone who's paid attention to his lessons on eugenics in high-school science class knows that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And as for those odd souls who removed themselves to that place voluntarily, it only shows their preference for associating with criminal defectives; the clearest sign of actually being one.

You don't pry into whether our local wardens prefer thumbscrews or the lash, so why bother yourself about how Australians can talk to each other?

Please forward this message (1)

flikx (191915) | more than 13 years ago | (#386107)

to all of your friends.

Couldn't we do without that?

Re:Can you say GPL? (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 13 years ago | (#386111)

>unless someone prefaces a message to you with a copyright notice, you can forward away.

What, under international law?


Re:Can you say GPL? (1)

eMBee (27441) | more than 13 years ago | (#386112)

this is not correct
there is absolutely no need to preface your writings with a copyright notice.

your copyright is always implied.

greetings, eMBee.

legalities (1)

shunryu (321987) | more than 13 years ago | (#386114)

If anyone cares to remember the Chinese government passed a law stating "Pornographic images of any kind are illegal and punishable", this is a variation of sorts from another country.

With all the attacks on the Internet coming from all different places (hacks on Microsoft, script kiddies defacements, script kiddie DoS attacks), officials are not technologically savvy enough to differentiate any underlying factors when assessing laws to create to assess the bad stuff from the good, hence the UK's law making hacking a crime.

By creating such vague laws officials may feel these methods do not describe any specifics, but an entire slew of incidents which can occur which would make it easier to prosecute crimes. Sure it sounds scary, but the prospect of someone taking you to court because you forward a mail in my opinion is slim.

We have some pretty odd laws over here in the United States which can fall into that category as is seen with some of these companies fighting over patents, and copyright laws, some are as outrageous and nondescript as possible, certainly untested in courts, so there easier to use and reflect upon when making charges against a criminal.

My two cents on this issue, my two hot chicks [] posing on my site.

Re:Can you say GPL? (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 13 years ago | (#386115)

You definitely have it backwards. Anything you write is copyrighted by default; if, say, there wasn't a copy of the GPL in the tarball, you would probably still be able to compile/run/modify it, but certainly not give away copies.

Re:Turmoil down under! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#386118)

Constable Microsoft isn't the enemy force here. Even Gates knows this is wrong. How can they conduct business when all the people can do is sit and stare at government web sites? No email, no "unclean" sites, no web radio, no TV, no music. None of it. Where's the market?

Re:what are the odds (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 13 years ago | (#386119)

Heh, except unless the chain mail in quesiton explicity allows you to forward as much as you like, eh? (or did that have to be in writing outside the email?)


Can you say 'Sorry'? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#386121)

Please note that under the Berne Convention, an international agreement to which almost all nations (including the United States) are signatory, all written works are under copyright automatically, even when no explicit copyright is mentioned.

Come on... (1)

Zuna (317219) | more than 13 years ago | (#386126)

I hardly think that the government is going to kick down your door because you are forwarding emails in violation of this new law. How could they possibly know anyway? Is someone going to turn you in? The only way they could possibly know if you are forwarding email illegally is if they are monitoring your email, which they cannot do.

Cops have more important things to worry about, like murderers, rapists, burglars, and eating donuts. I don't think this law is going to matter in the long run. At least I hope not...

I can see it now:
Tonight, on Australia's Most Wanted, Daniel Thomas AKA "The Mad 4-W0rd3r" is wanted on over 49 thousand counts of illegal mail forwarding...

Just add a mail header (1)

displague (4438) | more than 13 years ago | (#386130)

What is the big deal?

I think it is something that the technology should have incorporated anyway ==

Imagine the message as being sent with one extra header line:

X-ForwardingOK Yes/True

I don't doubt that such a header is not already in use by some back yard mailer.

This way I get a little more control in what you do with my message. Ofcourse, there is nothing to stop you from copy and pasting, or from-scratch typing a copy of my message, but the mail client may refuse to auto-forward it (unless you specify that the field should be ignored.)

Email clients? (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 13 years ago | (#386132)

Hmm.. so how long before the Australian version of Outlook (required, of course, for government compliance) includes a "no-forward" or "no-copy" checkbox for email messages, and refuses to forward/save emails marked with it?

All men are great
before declaring war

Re:Oh gee (1)

Puk (80503) | more than 13 years ago | (#386134)

I love how that got moderated up as "Informative". Don't get me wrong, it's funny as hell. But I think they missed the joke. :)


Re:Email illegal in Auz (5)

DeadMeat (TM) (233768) | more than 13 years ago | (#386136)

Not quite. The article states quite clearly that the reason why forwarding E-mail without permission is illegal is that it violates copyright laws. (In some countries, apparently including Australia, all original works are considered copyrighted, whether or not it is stated in the work. So you own the copywrite to all E-mail you write, since it is your original work.) By sending E-mail you are giving implicit consent for the SMTP servers to duplicate your message. (Now having somebody program the SMTP server and save logs of all the E-mail passing through it *would* be illegal, but I don't think anybody's going to be upset about that.) Everybody is blowing this out of proportion. It's no different than copyright laws before, it's just been clearly extended to E-mail. You aren't banned from forwarding mail; but if you knowingly forward something that the author didn't want forwarded, then you could be sued for copyright infringement, just if you Xeroxed a copyrighted work and snailmailed it. You just need to apply some common sense when forwarding things (consider whether or not the author would have wanted them forwarded) which is a good practice anyway, copyright laws or no.

Forwarding is theft! (5)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | more than 13 years ago | (#386137)

Those people who write emails have worked HARD and they deserve to be compensated for their efforts!

If you forward those emails you are a THIEF and a CRIMINAL, no different than if you went into a Border's and raped the cashier. How would you like if some gave away all your work for free? Communist!

It's about time the government cracked down on those freeloaders. If you think forwarding emails should be free, well let's see you write your own emails and give them away! If every one forwarded emails, no one would write new emails because there'd be no incentive! How would you like that! Commie!

Err, wait a minute, what was the discussion about again?

What about viruses? (3)

saagar734 (224638) | more than 13 years ago | (#386142)

And what happens to all the viruses?

Chain mail probably wouldn't be illegal.... (1)

PsionicMan (74653) | more than 13 years ago | (#386144)

...because they usually contain permission to forward explicity written in the email itself. Something along the lines of:

"Please forward this to as many people as possible"

I mean, it's not chain mail if it doesn't tell you to forward it, right?


Max, in America, it's customary to drive on the right.

Aussies wierd. (1)

banuaba (308937) | more than 13 years ago | (#386146)

Before this whole Australian DCMA thing started, I had always thought that the Aussies were all like Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan. I think I liked that much better.

Remember the history here (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 13 years ago | (#386148)

Australia is really a penal colony for British convicts. The public becomes incensed when prisoners receive perks like cableTV, an education, etc. Basically, we want our prisoners to live in concrete boxes, with few if any rights.

Perhaps the government in Australia is just fulfilling the public's wishes? That Crocodile Hunter guy is a real shady character ya know...

forwarding... (1)

tomcrooze (33802) | more than 13 years ago | (#386150)

Forwarding e-mails today can be mainly attributed to teenage girls and others who believe the e-mails that appeal to one's sense of well-doing. For example, if you heard that if you simply send an e-mail, and you can save a person's life because they have a fatal form of a disease, and 7 cents will be donated by the American Cancer Society to cure this FATAL disease, then of course you'll do it, right?

However, it's sad how so many people believe these schemes. Forwards first started out with the "forward to get a good sex life," and then evolved to "save a life, forward this," and next to "protect your kidneys from being stolen!" and finally, the endless numbers of virus hoaxes that will wipe out your hard drive simply by reading the e-mail.

Deception is obviously the easiest way to claim fame. Some really bored nerd (probably a /.'er first poster) are probably the ones who are perpetuating this and saying "hey guys, look at this forward I made and how popular it is!)

While most forwards are merely annoying, they unneccessarily waste bandwidth and time. Until the word gets out in the mass media, forwards will continue to be a caveat of e-mail. Except for the forwards that are real, forwards will be just like death, taxes, spam, and the need to upgrade.


Voltage_Gate (69001) | more than 13 years ago | (#386151)

Email is routinely forged these days, mostly in the form of SPAM. So now you can pin this crime on anyone at all. 5 years in jail, $60,000 fine. I suggest an air strike against Australia is in order, I think we can reach them some B2s and land in Guam...
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