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Australian Defense Scientists Plagiarizing Trade Secrets

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the they-don't-believe-in-imaginary-property dept.

Australia 60

An anonymous reader writes "At least five businesses have alleged senior officers in the Defence Science and Technology Organization have plagiarized intellectual property for their own research [free reg. required] and then passed it on to government business partners to develop a rival product. There are fears that IP plagiarizing could increase with the new Defence Trade Controls Act passed last year despite warnings from the universities it would drive research offshore. Once the trial period ends Australian high-tech researchers will face up to 10 years jail for sending an e-mail or making an overseas phone call without a government permit."

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60 comments

Crikey (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#45590469)

Yep, that's how it starts... a couple of bad eggs wind up compromising everyone's freedom to plagiarize.

The Article (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591423)

At least five businesses have alleged senior officers in the Defence Science and Technology Organisation have plagiarised their intellectual property for their own research and then passed it on to business partners to develop a rival product. They also allege there is a âoerogue element within the agencyâ and a âoeculture of circling the wagons when confronted with allegations against themâ.

And there are fears that IP plagiarising could increase with the Labor government last year implementing the Defence Trade Controls Act, which seeks to limit Australian businesses or individuals supplying technology to someone outside of Australia without first revealing their IP to the Australian government.

Brendan Jones, a Brisbane-based small businessman, spent 12 years of his life developing his revolutionary Kestrel Tactical Simulator, a PC-based professional military platform that simulates air, sea, land and space operations anywhere on the planet. The program simulated various transport modes, weaponry, radars and other sensors.

âoeIt realistically simulated injuries,â Jones explained to Crikey. âoeA shot soldier would start bleeding at a rate appropriate for the wound, and would have to get medical attention, say, via a medivac before they went into shock. I spent many years studying warfare intently to make it as accurate an experience as possible.â

Jones wanted to sell the software to the Defence Department but he was told he must go through DSTO. The government organisation looked at it but eventually recommended against funding the project because it was âoeimpossible to do on a PCâ. Jones battled on.

âoeI developed the software myself from my own savings, but when I finished, DSTO tricked ADF into believing the software wouldnâ(TM)t ship for several years. They then gave my IP to scientists I had been warned were plagiarising private sector research, broke a non-disclosure agreement, and three months later they commissioned their business partner to produce a rival version known as BattleModel,â Jones said.

Crikey understands BattleModel only began as an air simulator while Jonesâ(TM) KTS was multi-domain (land, sea, air and space) and in particular had excellent maritime simulation capability that was a major attraction to the Navy. An independent investigator appointed by the ADF to investigate the theft of IP told Jones: âoeYour software and the DSTO BattleModel software were remarkably similar. When I started this case I couldnâ(TM)t see any similarities between KTS and BattleModel. Now I canâ(TM)t see anything they donâ(TM)t have in common.â

Most people Crikey spoke to were unwilling to speak on the record due to a fear of upsetting existing business contracts with the ADF. A CEO of a major defence industry organisation told Crikey the organisation was aware of three recent cases where the DSTO had plagiarised a small business and run off with its ideas. âoeIâ(TM)m the first to say there are two sides to every story, but as more instances came up and I thought this is starting to happen a bit much,â the CEO said. âoeThe first person you think, well, he might be a bad businessman and didnâ(TM)t protect his IP, but then you start hearing of other people, and now Iâ(TM)ve had three cases across my desk, and Iâ(TM)m beginning to think that there is some sort of a systemic problem within the organisation.â

One of the businesspeople considered taking legal action but decided not to fight the department as he suffered a nervous breakdown during protracted negotiations. In a confidential email to the CEO, he said:

        âoeJust letting you know that I am finished now. DMO cancelled all of my contracts; DSTO awarded my last contract to xxxxx who had been given access to all of my IP and processes by DSTO so thereâ(TM)s nothing left for me to do now. All the work I developed and pushed with xxxxx will now go to xxxxx.â

Another businessman considering legal action was working alongside DSTO in one of its divisions to develop technology but his IP was passed on to a rival company, potentially costing him millions of dollars. The company is still working with DSTO on other projects. The managing director also had a signed non-disclosure agreement with DSTO.

âoeWe lost many years of investment through no fault of our own,â he said. âoeIf you have technology that you pass on to them youâ(TM)ve got to be really careful who you are talking to, and you have got to guard against those within; worse still, those rogues that are brazen enough to actually take on a roll of passing that information on. Iâ(TM)m aware of two other cases of where this has happened and were settled out of court.â

Crikey sources say the DSTO is a world leader in science and generally a professionally run organisation, but some rogue officers at junior and senior level within the agency threaten to damage a hard-earned reputation. The sources also believe the level of impartiality in subsequent defence investigations of complaints leaves a lot to be desired.

The defence industry organisation CEO said: âoeI think that once people gel into what they are doing they get extremely risk-averse and will not acknowledge things that have happened. I think this has happened in the cases Iâ(TM)ve been involved in, and they disbelieve that these things havenâ(TM)t really gone on and industry are just making it up.â

This was supported by the small business managing director, who told Crikey: âoeThe people concerned that were brought to the attention of DSTO are today still operating with impunity. You then have a layer of defence behaviour where they are all buddies and they will encircle the wagons; you go in and attack them, and they will just shoot you down. They donâ(TM)t care; they will throw the kitchen sink at you. They will attack before they can defend themselves to the point they will create security incidents that donâ(TM)t exist to try and discredit you.â

Now there are fears the Labor-initiated Defence Trade Controls Act will open the door to more plagiarising. The purpose of the legislation is to strengthen Australiaâ(TM)s existing export controls and implement the Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty. Australiaâ(TM)s export control system aims to control goods and technology that can be used in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, or military goods and technology, and prevent them from getting into the wrong hands. It will be phased in over a two-year period, but after that those who donâ(TM)t comply face prison terms of up to 10 years and fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The legislation has drawn wide criticism across the academic sector. Brendan Jones is sceptical: âoeIf I phoned or emailed someone overseas just to talk about it, e.g. to nibble for sales, get advice or discuss a technical problem, I could go to jail for 10 years. Instead I have to apply for permits from Defence just to talk about my work, with no recourse against Defence stealing my IP. After what happened last time, no way Iâ(TM)d expose myself to them again.â

A Defence spokesperson told Crikey that one complaint of IP plagiarism has been received by the DSTO in the last five years. The complaint was not upheld. Comment was sought from the DSTO Probity Board and the Inspector-General of the ADF, but they did not respond before deadline.

Bad? Good? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590471)

Patents and other "Intellectual Property" is bad, right? Unless it's the gub'ment stealing it, in which case it's good?

IT IS AUSTRALIA CUT THEM SOME SLACK !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590483)

Not everyone can be from the U S of A !!

Merry X-Menas !!

Re:IT IS AUSTRALIA CUT THEM SOME SLACK !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591799)

Trust me. Millions of Australians, and billions from the rest of the world, are very fucking thankful they arent from the USA.

Re:IT IS AUSTRALIA CUT THEM SOME SLACK !! (2)

rvw (755107) | about 5 months ago | (#45593649)

Trust me. Millions of Australians, and billions from the rest of the world, are very fucking thankful they arent from the USA.

Americans are screaming fucking thankful. The rest of the world is just thankful.

Re:IT IS AUSTRALIA CUT THEM SOME SLACK !! (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 5 months ago | (#45596529)

Note sure all of the Abo's would agree with you on that can't see a Ozzie Obama anytime soon.

Re:IT IS AUSTRALIA CUT THEM SOME SLACK !! (1)

crimson tsunami (3395179) | about 4 months ago | (#45604305)

You mean like all the Native American presidents that you've had so far?
Or your female presidents?
How about an athiest?

Re:IT IS AUSTRALIA CUT THEM SOME SLACK !! (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 4 months ago | (#45610697)

However badly the Native American Nations where treated they got off lightly compered to the Aborigines in Australia

Seems clear enough... (5, Interesting)

Empiric (675968) | about 5 months ago | (#45590535)

...that industrial espionage, not "terrorism", is the real purpose for storage capacity of the magnitude of the NSA's Utah facility.

Not that any other government that can, won't. Eventually business will be sorted into those who have "government connections", and those who don't--the former collecting the latter's innovations and work product en masse (thus, essentially, their lives), and putting them out of business.

Corporatism (alternately, fascism), with turbo boost.

Re:Seems clear enough... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590655)

The NSA has nothing to do with this. Believe it or not, not everything revolves around the USA.

Re:Seems clear enough... (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 5 months ago | (#45590725)

In terms of the technology involved, it pretty-much does.

But that's irrelevant. As I said, I expect any given country to follow suit (and they have done so historically)--just that Internet-scraping gives a vastly more-efficient mechanism for it, a fact which the NSA is well aware. It's an issue of principle, and it applies regardless of who is doing it. The scale just increases the potential damage.

Re:Seems clear enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590807)

I must inform you that the center of the world is located at 12609 Benson St, Overland Park, Kansas 66213, United States very near that Jupiter Network's beige suburb style wooden production and public relations facility.

Re:Seems clear enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45592393)

Zoom and ENHANCE!

The NSA has nothing to do with this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591361)

hahahahahahaahahahhaahahhahaahahahahaahahaha

Re:Seems clear enough... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#45591579)

The NSA would be very interested in all Australia emerging mil tech issues.
"Bezaley tells of US code crack"
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/we-cracked-us-code-beazley/2007/09/20/1189881668071.html [smh.com.au]
e.g. US mil says "No" to Australia on some mil sales and upgrades - what does Australia do? Try and lobby around the US restrictions and then just work around US mil export grade equipment.. sharing with outside firms and brands..until the work is done to Australian needs.
The US also knows Australia has diverse staff with different counties of origin and faiths. 100% loyal to Australia and that other country/faith would keep the US very interested in Australians with top clearances.
The US would also be very aware that Australia has some different ideas on protected mil/industrial security systems. Its outsourced to contractors and sub contractors with "best effort" Australian security while chasing lower costs and balancing the need to bring in very advanced skills.
Australia cannot afford to "create" mil tech so it shops around the world and uses 'trusted' diverse international brands to fix up US export systems.

The "real" reason reductionists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591659)

Seems clear enough [...] that industrial espionage, not "terrorism", is the real purpose for storage capacity of the magnitude of the NSA's Utah facility.

Never mind that this is in Australia and not the USA, but I've always had a pet peeve against people who talk about the "real" reason for something like no one can ever do anything for multiple reasons, and the one that pisses you off the most is the only one that matters (since it's the only one that matters to you).

Re:The "real" reason reductionists (2)

Empiric (675968) | about 5 months ago | (#45592317)

But then, former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney has stated that nothing remotely equivalent to the capacity of Utah is needed for the NSA's stated mission. Perhaps you missed his interview.

Nor did I say it was the only reason that "matters", nor am I the only person who considers systemic violations of the Constitution something worthy of being "pissed off" about.

You seem to have a bit of cognitive dissonance here. Splitting the issues into "good" and "bad" and categorizing individual things individually, regardless of what other things an organization may do, and advocating for more "good" and less "bad", would probably clarify.

Spying for Profit, not National Security (2)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45592201)

Australian spooks spy for commercial gain:

"Australian spy agency helped BHP negotiate trade deals"
http://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-spy-agency-helped-bhp-negotiate-trade-deals-20131106-2x1sw.html [smh.com.au]

"East Timor will launch a case in The Hague alleging the Australia Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) covertly recorded Timorese ministers and officials during oil and gas negotiations"
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-03/asio-raided-lawyer-representing-east-timor-in-spying-case/5132486 [abc.net.au]

They also spied on the Indonesian President's wife because, well, they could:
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/spying-on-president-susilo-bambang-yudhoyonos-wife-a-step-too-far-by-asd-20131120-2xvu5.html [smh.com.au]

All nations have laws legalising this behaviour (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590559)

Governments place themselves ABOVE IP laws when it comes to so called 'national defence'. You don't think, for instance, the Americans told the Russians to stop work on nuclear weapons, because the yanks had patented all the technology provided by the international scientists that America had accumulated from the period of WW2 and after?

Patents are civilian mechanisms- always have been and always will be. No nation will allow issues of 'defence' to be hamstrung by issues of who invented what. So why are the owners of Slashdot pushing this NON-STORY? There is always an agenda here. Let me guess, Slashdot is about to start pushing the line that Iran are 'bad guys' cos all their civilian nuclear technology was invented by Israelis, or some other such zionist garbage. Are we about to see another attempt to get the sheeple behind anti-Iranian propaganda, using this new tactic.

And yes, before the usual vile shills dribble about how THIS story is about a nation in the West, I should point out this is simply the tactic of LEGITIMISATION- first of all establish a false principle, and then use that false principle to attack your real 'enemy'.

And let me make another thing clear. IF the excuse of ignoring IP laws for defence work leads to patent abuse using to give commercial advantage in NON-defence industries, the patent holders can take action in civil courts. The route by which the infringement happened is NOT a defence against prosecution.

So, again ALL nations steal each others secrets when making war weapons, or systems that serve the same, and this is TOTALLY legal. There are, and never will be any UN conventions or treaties prohibiting such behaviour (see if you can figure out why). But, this fact does NOT protect ordinary non-defence companies in the same nations if they infringe IP laws, even if they were given the information to do so by people working in the defence fields. This is not a difficult thing to understand.

Re:All nations have laws legalising this behaviour (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591049)

This sounds fine at first blush, but since most 'war work' these days is contracted out to private companies it's clear that it can be very hard to define where the legal part ends and the illegal part starts.

Re:All nations have laws legalising this behaviour (4, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#45591341)

no they don't.

they didn't even in tougher times.
during ww1 and ww2 patents were paid both ways, even for shit like guns. IP law lobbyists trump even spies and generals. maxim made a shitload of money by licensing his gun to everyone's armies(and none of them copied it without paying license fees! even when they were going to have war with the nation the license fees would flow into!).

there's no exemptions for this stuff in the laws(of western nations), there's no rule that if an invention is for killing then patents don't count...

so shut up, ok? excusing blatant law breaking because "it's the government so it's ok!" is just pure shit. furthermore it's usually some company breaking it and selling the results to said government.. industrial espionage - with winners chosen by NSA - for kickbacks. it twists capitalism and makes some non-democratically chosen people very powerful so have fun with that then...

Re:All nations have laws legalising this behaviour (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 months ago | (#45591741)

Well, there is the invention secrecy act in the US. Not quite what the guy was getting at, but not completely unrelated either.

But otherwise, yeah, that AC is an idiot. First clue should have been his conspiracy theory about slashdot preparing to go anti-iran for nuke patents. Because the slashdot crowd is so pro-patent that would have any meaningful effect on our opinion of iran.

Australia is very, very corrupt (5, Informative)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45592121)

This was the actual text from Clayton Utz, the law firm acting for the Australian Department of Defence: "“The reason we believe your claim will fail is because you allege that the Commonwealth owes innovators submitting products or technology for evaluation a duty of care to ensure that the evaluations are either fair, proper and accurate or that the confidential information is respected. There is no such duty of care in Australian law.”

They are very disingenuous: The DSTO publicly solicits businesses to submit inventions to Defence under the "DSTO CTD Capability and Technology Demonstrator Program", and then screw them over behind closed doors.

Here the Defence Science Minister Warren Snowdon announced a DSTO Probity Board "to protect against conflict of interest" http://www.dsto.defence.gov.au/news/6648/ [defence.gov.au], while here he sends a letter to an independent MP in which he falsely claims the whistleblower didn't want the thefts from other companies to be investigated(!): http://victimsofdsto.com/doc/2011-02-28%20Letter%20from%20Defence%20Science%20Minister%20with%20false%20information%20to%20Independent%20MP%20(NAMES%20BLACKED%20OUT).pdf [victimsofdsto.com]

Australia's Federal Police force, the AFP, are systemically corrupt. They ignore public service crime http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service-keeps-fraud-cases-private-20110923-1kpdr.html [smh.com.au] and terrorise whistleblowers: http://pastebin.com/tD8Vd6Vd [pastebin.com] http://victimsofdsto.com/psc/#kessing [victimsofdsto.com]

You can't use the civil courts: Under the Model Litigant Policy the Australian government has to keep legal costs to a minimum, must offer alternate dispute resolution, etc. But the government lawyers simply ignore it, run up huge legal bills and threaten to bankrupt you with a costs order if you dare step foot into court. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/legal-affairs/gillard-government-lashed-for-ignoring-breaches-of-model-litigant-rules/story-e6frg97x-1226325228917 [theaustralian.com.au] Another department did actually bankrupt a guy. Not mentioned in the article, the DSTO also stole IP from some big defence companies (including an American one).

It costs about $2M to litigate the gov. I don't know of a single company who has seen litigation through: SMEs can't afford it, and the large companies said litigating their biggest customer would lose future contracts. The only law firms capable of taking on the government pro bono in Australia are all on retainer to them! Here's a very good book "Our Corrupt Legal System" by an investigative crime journalist; Page 157- describes all the dirty tricks lawyers play: http://netk.net.au/Whitton/OCLS.pdf [netk.net.au] . play.

Re:All nations have laws legalising this behaviour (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 5 months ago | (#45592531)

Criminal charges and ten years hard time for researchers who communicate with their international peers (y'know, the ones from "peer review") is hardly a non-story, friend.

Communicating research to international peers (1)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45593291)

> Criminal charges and ten years hard time for researchers who communicate with their international peers (y'know, the ones from "peer review") is hardly a non-story, friend.

Exactly, and that's why the universities hate it so much: That's the way they do research; by collaborating with peers.

The University of Sydney Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research warned: "Our researchers may have lost their ability to freely conduct public-good research and communicate research results ... This legislation could mean a conference speech, publication of a scientific paper or sending an email to colleagues could require a Defence permit or become a serious crime. ... It would impede top scientists in developing technologies for tomorrow's high-tech manufacturing industries, new vaccines and potential cures for cancer. The Australian government worries about a brain drain in advanced technology, but is poised to pass legislation that could force our best and brightest offshore". http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tighter-defence-ties-will-bind-academics-and-stifle-innovation-20121009-27b4n.html [smh.com.au]

But the government ignored the universities and rammed the laws through anyway; they wouldn't even accept amendments for basic research. The Commonwealth Chief Scientist dismissed the universities concerns: "Those boxing at shadows and guessing at what it (the laws) might mean to some unspecified but allegedly 'substantial' number of researchers can continue to do that if it makes them happy." http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/chubbs-defends-researchers-prospects-under-the-defence-trade-controls-bill/story-e6frgcjx-1226508483554 [theaustralian.com.au]

Charming!

Re:All nations have laws legalising this behaviour (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45592863)

Australia has a soiled history. Sending Swedish sub propeller info to the USA. The USA has also purloined things like optic fibre taps.
Plus there are secret patents yeah. No point in revealing a patent if you can't enforce it. Most think there is sharing going on.
Just try scrapping it out with one of the big 5 defense names.

Simply best not to reveal it, given nobody can be trusted - not post Snowden. And while this level of distrust lingers, places like China and basket case countries will sell inferior knock-offs cheap as chips to anyone with the cash.
 

Best not to reveal, but no longer an allowed (1)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45593203)

> Simply best not to reveal it, given nobody can be trusted

Absolutely, and what one company who lost a lot due to thefts did was simply refuse the DSTO physical access to their facilities. But under the DTCA they can no longer do that; they *must* let them in, give access, office space, etc. Defence can also issue a company with an order to turn over IP. Penalties for refusing are fines and jail time.

In the US the Economic Espionage Act is actually quite strong legislation for protecting trade secrets. Again, in Australia there is no such legislation, so you must really keep your cards close to your chest. Again, under the DTCA you can no longer do that. If you want to not just sell, but even communicate about your work (e.g. communicate with a peer, brainstorm a problem, ask a supplier a question) you must get a permit, so you can no longer keep it secret. Defence don't have (for want of a better word) "Chinese Walls". As soon as a scientist finishes looking at your product - even under a non-disclosure, they are free to do research in the same area.

This paper has a good analysis of the flaws with the DTCA permit system: http://www.ausairpower.net/PDF-A/APA-DP-2013-0801.pdf [ausairpower.net]

It sounds like they "learned" from the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590617)

It sounds like they learned this stupidity from the USA. Remember the encryption control back in the 90s? There used to be a little web form you filled out for 128-bit encryption downloads. Silliest thing ever. All they needed was ONE guy from a bad country with an AOL account, and then they ALL had a browser with 128-bit encryption because that's the very nature of software. I used to fill out my name in the form as "Hafez the Enforcer" from "Baghdad, AL". I had to pick Alabama because there was no selection for Iraq.

Just what they want (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#45590699)

A law with vague descriptions of actions that will be illegal. Perfect for use against those non-conformists when used capriciously.

proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45590811)

So rather than just give us a link to a site we need to register for, how about giving us more about what the article actually says than just an into paragraph that just talks about allegations?

Ah well ... Australians (-1, Troll)

golodh (893453) | about 5 months ago | (#45590881)

They really do seem to have a lingering criminal streak down there.

Only it now manifests as a lack of ethics in legislation.

Re:Ah well ... Australians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591257)

Would you mind telling us from what rock in which country you came crawling out of?.

Re:Ah well ... Australians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591275)

So what's the USA's excuse? Oh right, it was only by treason that the US became a country... But then what the fuck is the excuse in the UK?

I ask these questions because all 3 are doing seriously shady shit like this at the moment. It's all made possible by the mass surveillance.

Re:Ah well ... Australians (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591773)

Least they're not a bunch of nigger loving jew boys.

Re:Ah well ... Australians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591957)

G'day mate. True blue Aussie here. Spelling colour and mum the correct way, using the metric system like a boss, drinking VB and Coopers and not Fosters (Fosters hasn't been seen on shelves in Australia for about 30 years- we'd rather send it overseas than drink it ourselves).

I always personally enjoy the whole 'Australia = criminal scum' thing- it reminds me that distilling an entire country down to a one line sudo-insult is pretty damn stupid. I am guilty of this myself sometimes, so hearing it 'from the other side of the fence' is a nice reminder for me to avoid such moronic banter.

You are forgiven though, as I'm sure your understanding of my country is via Crocodile Dundee, Steve Irwin and Mad Max. Just as my understanding of your country (assuming America) is from Honey Boo Boo, Swamp People and Breaking Bad

Re:Ah well ... Australians (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 5 months ago | (#45592289)

Well, he didn't want to log in as root to issue insults, so it had to be done with sudo. He would be risking the security of his insult file otherwise.

Re:Ah well ... Australians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45592405)

Say maaaaaaaaaaaaattte. That sure is a nice keyboard you're typing on. Might drop by for a visit... when you're out. cheers and beers, Bruce.

Australians have no Free Speech (2)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45592167)

A very big problem in Australia is that we have no right to free speech like Americans do: http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/4529/do-we-have-the-right-to-freedom-of-speech-in-austr.aspx [findlaw.com.au]

Under the Public Figure Doctrine US journalists can report corruption in a timely manner. In Australia we have nothing like that - not even a public interest test - so journalists must sit on stories for years. The Australian media couldn't even tell the people of New South Wales that their Premier (Governor) was manifestly-corrupt until the day after he died. http://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/documents/Martin_def.html [bmartin.cc] http://victimsofdsto.com/online/#freespeech [victimsofdsto.com]

The right to free speech is so limited in Australia that this public servant was fired for anonymously tweeting her own opinion on her own equipment on her own time: http://www.psnews.com.au/Featurespsn3834.html [psnews.com.au] In the US the Supreme Court holds that public servants (government workers) have the right to express their own opinions. In Australia, they don't.

Re:Australians have no Free Speech (2)

Fjandr (66656) | about 5 months ago | (#45592293)

This is becoming less true. The US has a history (increasing in usage) of threatening the press with jail time if they publish anything truly damaging to the government.

Re:Australians have no Free Speech (1)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45593719)

Yes, under this US government the attacks on whistleblowers and pressure on the media to kiss ass has never been higher, but you still have a constitution and a bill of rights that can put things right. We in Australia simply don't have that.

Re:Australians have no Free Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45606011)

Have you seen an Australian interview a politician?
How about an American "interview" a politician

Americans never ask the tough questions, and if they did the politicians wouldn't answer anyway.
When was the last time an American politician resigned in disgrace due to hard media questioning showing them as incompetent or corrupt?

Re:Australians have no Free Speech (1)

golodh (893453) | about 5 months ago | (#45593457)

Well, sorry for the inflammatory parent post but it did get people's attention (yours among others).

You obviously know more about the situation in Australia than I do, and disabling the freedom of the press will definitely encourage corruption.

From the article however it appears that Australian civil servants regularly misappropriate technical information that comes to them under certain state-security statutes and then turn around and hand it to commercial parties of their choice to develop into products.

I honestly don't understand how these people can sleep at night. As a civil servant you're supposed to serve the people that employ you, not steal their work under cover of security statutes. And as for those "scientists" plagiarising (i.e. putting their own name on) ideas and inventions handed to them by state security ... words fail me.

Plus that gem about that new Aussie law (the Defence Trade Controls Act) that seems so broad that it can criminalise you for innocuous acts like sending an email with an explanation or leaving a server open (think about OSS) with e.g. software or information on potential dual use technology. (See e.g. http://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/470072/Defence_Controls_Act_-_Information_v2.pdf [uws.edu.au] and fos a list of controlled goods: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2012L02318/be04cd99-b7aa-4f39-a4cb-e35196ffc653 [comlaw.gov.au])

In all probability the Australian government just wanted to impress the US with its zeal and preparedness to go after proliferators. In doing that they seem to have created a law (the DTCA) that allows communication about just about anything that could possibly find dual use to be retrospectively criminalised.

The only way to stay clear seems to be to either have a legal department vet each and every communication outside Australia (including accessible servers). Otherwise you put your head on the chopping block and all you can do is hope nobody will (with hindsight !) find cause to bring down the axe.

This is a school of legislation that goes back to the best traditions of the Crown asserting its Sovereign Rights over its subjects. Just put in a catch-all article and see if you're going to invoke it afterwards. Result: ease of legislation for the Government and everybody else has to live in fear of being prosecuted and can only hope for leniency and good will on part of the Government.

Now the US has got many things wrong, but this isn't one of them.

Re:Australians have no Free Speech (1)

Brendan_Jones (3452957) | about 5 months ago | (#45593699)

> I honestly don't understand how these people can sleep at night. As a civil servant you're supposed to serve the people that employ you, not steal their work under cover of security statutes. And as for those "scientists" plagiarising (i.e. putting their own name on) ideas and inventions handed to them by state security ... words fail me.

These people are a very strange breed. They have a sense of self-entitlement, and because they are taxpayer funded there's no need to be efficient. If you don't meet your work targets, your boss complains he is underresourced and needs more of those sweet taxpayer dollars. And they're unaccountable.

Take the Australian Public Service Commissioner. His Minister claimed he had strong anti-corruption powers, but privately he claimed he didn't, and refused to take stop it. Yet despite the government knowing about this, he still has a job: http://victimsofdsto.com/psc [victimsofdsto.com]

I've spent my life working in private enterprise, and I've never seen anything like this. Any company that acted like this would go broke.

> Plus that gem about that new Aussie law (the Defence Trade Controls Act) that seems so broad that it can criminalise you for innocuous acts like sending an email with an explanation or leaving a server open

It's startlingly bad law. They were supposed to draft it in consult with the universities, but they ignored them and treated them like crap. The public service was amazing arrogant, and remain so to this day.

> In all probability the Australian government just wanted to impress the US with its zeal and preparedness to go after proliferators.

One advocate I know said at the start of it a senior public servant told him it was because "We have to bring the universities under control."

> The only way to stay clear seems to be to either have a legal department vet each and every communication outside Australia (including accessible servers). Otherwise you put your head on the chopping block and all you can do is hope nobody will (with hindsight !) find cause to bring down the axe.

I think the best way to do business is to move offshore. Even in America, there are less restrictions and better access to talent, connections and venture capital too. Australia is already a bad place to do business (unless that's mining or farming). Like the DVCR at Sydney University warned, it will just drive high-tech research offshore.

> Now the US has got many things wrong, but this isn't one of them.

Yes, and as stuffed up as things are in America, it has a sound constitution. And even if SCOTUS takes too long and often lets its politics get in the way, the Constitution ultimately has the power to put things right. In Australia we don't have that. We have no Bill of Rights. When you get a bad law like this, you lump it or leave.

Re:Australians have no Free Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45606069)

America's constitution is a piece of toilet paper, noone in power cares about it. Corporations are the in thing now, all the rights of people but none of the responsibilities. Plus they have enough money to write their own laws for the politicians to follow.

What can Americans do about bad laws? Protest from a "free speech zone"? Save up enough money to outbribe the corporation that wrote it? Vote for a third party? Vote for the "opposition" with the same or worse laws?

At least in Australia they can clean out the pollies and get a new batch every now and then.

Nit: the word 'plagiarise' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591235)

seems to be misplaced here. This seems a case of stolen intellectual property (OK, the zealots would say "infringed", lah de dah), trafficking in work that was supposed to be kept confidential.

"Plagiarism" means the perpetrators are publishing someone else's work under their own name, without attribution.

Re:Nit: the word 'plagiarise' (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 5 months ago | (#45592301)

The second part seems to be what is happening (and it incorporates the entire first paragraph, plus the missing bits to qualify as plagiarism). They're taking IP wholesale, delivering it to another company, and that company claims it's their own work.

Re:Nit: the word 'plagiarise' (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#45593521)

Are they claiming to have invented something? If so, they are engaging in some form of fraud at least similar to plagiarism, but it would seem more likely that they are using the trade secret as a trade secret themselves. If they don't claim it's their own work, it's not plagiarism.

Re:Nit: the word 'plagiarise' (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 4 months ago | (#45616661)

Numerous companies have claimed it's their work, and have claimed that it's ended up in the hands of other companies who are now claiming it's their work.

If true, that's textbook plagiarism, just at a corporate level. It's also fraud, but plagiarism has always been a form of fraud.

Hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45591365)

As someone who has had close relations with parent company, I'm not in the least bit surprised.

The defence industry attracts a certain(problematic) personality, and without the psychological profiling(on the government side) that weeds out these individuals, well let’s just say that they'll eventually cause problems, and become a liability.
When groups of these people coalesce, the behaviours become the norm...

This example is just the tip of the iceberg(and is relatively benign)...

The irony of the Bill (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 5 months ago | (#45591381)

Is that it is created and published under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 3.0 Australia licence. Perhaps the answer is to open source everything and just give up on trying to patent anything anymore, at least in Australia.

I hate the weekends when Slashdot becomes... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45592553)

...Slashdot Australia.

Last week I received email from two independent Australian acquaintances wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. Both told me they were celebrating Thanksgiving in Australia, despite neither of them being American. When I questioned the logic of this -- I likened it to me celebrating their "Australia Day" here in the States -- they replied with spiels about how "Our two nations are so alike," with one going so far as to suggest that Australia would eventually become "The United States of Australia," and be official US states. No idea how that would work, or why anyone, anywhere would want it.

What is it with Australians and their desperate desire to discard their Australian-ness in favor of becoming Americans? Seriously, please explain the reasoning to me if you can, because I find it all a little intriguing, as well as a lot ridiculous.

Oh, and then there's this:

http://www.thanksgiving.org.au/

Next up: Aussies adopt Columbus Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Washington's Birthday!

Yeesh.

Re:I hate the weekends when Slashdot becomes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45592661)

fuck off morbidly obese yanks.

Re:I hate the weekends when Slashdot becomes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45606041)

What can we say, we enjoy a good excuse for a holiday and are friendly people.
I guess if you only have a couple holidays a year like the yanks do you would want to protect them foreigners, so as to not let them get even more happier than you.

And so THERE'S a new angle for the RIAA... (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 5 months ago | (#45592741)

To Judge: Your Honor, the defendant PURPOSELY and MALICIOUSLY obtained our client's, ah-herm, music, and proceeded to produce an in-tune, harmonic, and lyrics-actually-make-sense version of her song. This Is Intolerable for the future integrity of music!

Just THINK of the embarrassment and harassment endured by our client as someone rendered a better melodic performance than her. For Lady Gaga, this corruption of her musical interpretation is outrageous and must be stopped at all costs to uphold the honor of our client.



And besides that, we're not getting a cut of anything from the new version.

Are they 'Australians' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45592961)

or 'Asians'? LOL.

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