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Australian PM Has Parody Site Shut Down

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the ah-to-breath-the-free-air-of-australia dept.

289

babbling writes "The Australian Government has shut down a parody website that mocked Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The website featured a satirical speech that 'apologised' for the Iraq war. The site was down for two days before a phone call from Melbourne IT advised the owner that it had been shut down 'on the advice from the Australian Government'. A mirrored PDF copy of the "apology speech" is available."

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Good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941538)

We'd all do better off without such hateful speech.

Re:Good (-1, Offtopic)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941603)

You've been modded a troll, but I'm still trying to figure out if your comment is a troll, or an attempt at sarcasm/irony. Hmmm.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941642)

I think if it was modded funny it would work either way. If the guy was serious we could say that he is funny for thinking that, if was being sarcastic we could salute his humor.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

deesine (722173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941891)

We'd all do better off without such hateful speech.

Betterment through censorship is a one step forward-two steps backwards maneuver.

Dumbest article quote (4, Insightful)

AEton (654737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941545)

MelbourneIT representative: "To us it looks like a phishing site."

Not bloody likely.

Re:Dumbest article quote (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941579)

The answer is if you elect politicians who think you need to be protected from your own stupidity, those politicians may be onto something.

Re:Dumbest article quote (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941705)

Mind you, politicians tend to be from the lower end of the IQ pool... of course it makes it easier for them to spot stupidity, being so intimately familiar with it themsevles.

Re:Dumbest article quote (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941975)

When you're mired in it, it's pretty hard to see what you're mired in. Anyway, the politicians are living pretty well. Stupid are the people who elect them. Ignorant really. I don't think they would get elected if the voters actually made an effort to find out the truth about the people they're voting for. If not ignorant, then apathetic, if not that, then despicable, because they actually want censorship of "undesirables".

Re:Dumbest article quote (3, Interesting)

digster (924935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942004)

Unfortunately for us aussies, we have a westminster system of gov that was copied badly Whilst there are implied freedoms of speech etc in the australian constitution they arent actually written in there which means our government can pretty much do what the hell it likes. And for those saying vote jack boot johnny out, i agree, but that just means the other idiots get in. Lets face it if voting changed anything theyd make it illegal.

Re:Dumbest article quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14942084)

In what way is it a parody ?
It's just a document in the official government graphical format parlaying the usual half truths and bad arguments of the stoppers. Very clever. Gets removed presumably because there is no indication it's a parody and makes the front page of slashdot (probably the plan all along) because it fits the usual sloppy "oh we're so oppressed by our government" self indulgent fantacies of people who've never quite managed to grow out of teenage rebellion.

Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (5, Informative)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941554)

This is a Bad Thing, and it's quite possibly unlawful. In most countries, parody sites are protected under the "fair use" clause in copyright laws. If I wanted to create a humorous site parodying the UK government (where I live), I'd have certain protection by law to copy the "look and feel" of the other site. This is true of most other countries.

For example, some time ago there was a similar issue (reported here [theregister.co.uk] ) about the UK Gov's "Preparing for Emergencies" site (the real one is here [preparingf...ies.gov.uk] , the parody one here [preparingf...cies.co.uk] ). There was some fuss about it at the time, but basically the UK Gov cocked up by not registering the .co.uk domain along with the .gov.uk, and there was no case to answer in law, because of the "fair use" clause.

Similarly, whitehouse.org [whitehouse.org] and whitehouse.gov [whitehouse.gov] coexist. Indeed, there are probably hundreds of parody sites that work in a similar way.

Now, when I read the story, the quote from Bruce Tonkin at Melbourne IT set off my BS alarm. His claim that Melbourne IT reacts quickly to issues like this is simply not true. If you're involved in the anti-spam or anti-scam business, you'll know that Melbourne IT are one of the domain registrars of choice for phishers and spammers. In fact, Melbourne IT's procedures are so slack that they infamously transferred the panix.com domain [theregister.co.uk] to a third party without authorisation last year. The site was offline for several days because Melbourne IT don't work weekends. You'll see that Bruce Tonkin offered another bullshit excuse there too.

So, don't just blame the "Australian government" for this, as it's unclear who exactly intervened. A large part of the blame for this has to fall on Melbourne IT and their pisspoor procedures.. I bet they'd believe ANYBODY who rang up and claimed to be from the government. Shucks, perhaps I should give 'em a call and pretend to be John Howard.. although my English accent might give me away, though probably not.

Parody... (1)

Kittie Rose (960365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941588)

This has always bothered me. Why is it that Parody is the only "fair use"? You can't mention something in a serious manner, but if you take the piss out of it, it's legal? Never quite gotten that.

Re:Parody... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941713)

Why is it that Parody is the only "fair use"?

It's not. The following are generally mentioned along with fair use:
# Criticism
# Commentary
# Newsreporting
# Parody
Also, fair use is a US concept. It's known as fair dealing [wikipedia.org] in Australia.

Anyway, copyright generally doesn't come into this, because there was no copying (that I can see) involved - just linking to the PM's real site.

Re:Parody... (4, Informative)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941837)

(Warning: IANAL. I'm speaking here specifically on the subject of US law, which obviously isn't the same as UK or Australian law.)

Parody isn't the only "fair use." "Fair Use" is a legal standard established in title 17 of the US code. Basically it says that reproducing a copyrighted work without authorization is permissible if it is considered to be for "fair use." To determine whether a usage is fair or not, there are four tests that can be applied:
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted


Works of parody are usually given pretty broad latitude as being permissible under the first category.

However, pretty much none of this is applicable to the Australian issue, since, to my knowledge, Australia doesn't have a fair use doctrine. In fact, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , the only countries that do are the US and the Phillipines. In Australia, I think the legal test would be "fair dealing" [wikipedia.org] . If the wiki is correct, parody does not appear to be a provision of that doctrine.

Re:Parody... (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941919)

I would guess they could make a case under the "Review and Criticism" clause, and they MIGHT make a bizarre attempt at categorizing it as "Reporting the NEWS", but that would be a real stretch.

Re:Parody... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941977)

Why is it that Parody is the only "fair use"?

It's not. You can't mention something in a serious manner

You can.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (4, Interesting)

tpgp (48001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941595)

In fact, Melbourne IT's procedures are so slack that they infamously transferred the panix.com domain to a third party without authorisation last year.

Not just that. They've also been accused of facilitating [blogspot.com] 419 fraud.

So, don't just blame the "Australian government" for this, as it's unclear who exactly intervened.

Better: Blame the "Australian government" for this, along with Melbourne IT. John Howard has lied to the Australian Public again and again.

He's currently under investigation for his role in collusion with [theage.com.au] Saddam's regime under sections.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (1)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941751)

He's currently under investigation for his role in collusion with [theage.com.au] Saddam's regime under sections.

Like anything will ever come of that.... Subsidiaries of Haliburton sold equipment to Saddam while under sanctions with Dick Chenney as CEO. People tend to turn a blind eye to this sort of thing.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941930)

Yes, it's more about "competition" for the current and future Iraqi wheat market.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (4, Insightful)

mpe (36238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941596)

This is a Bad Thing, and it's quite possibly unlawful.

It's also rather counter productive since it gets a lot of people looking at whatever all this fuss is about.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941722)

So, don't just blame the "Australian government" for this, as it's unclear who exactly intervened.

The current Australian government's reputation doesn't help them though...

Particularly they have a very poor reputation as far as "supporting civil liverties on principle" is concerned. It is one of the few governments that is entirely happy for the US to keep its citizens who are terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay (on the grounds that that way Australia doesn't have to deal with them). Their attitude towards assylum seekers is notorious worldwide. And the opposition aren't actually much better - they have just successfully campaigned to remove accountability for controversial drug approvals from the Health Minister [who might have to justify himself to the Australian people] and pass it to an entirely unaccountable "panel of experts". I wonder how long before John Howard realises that so long as you pass all the unpopular decisions to an unaccountable "panel of experts" then no voter can ever reasonably complain about anything you do!

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (4, Funny)

bogie (31020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941727)

"This is a Bad Thing, and it's quite possibly unlawful. In most countries, parody sites are protected under the "fair use" clause in copyright laws"

Exactly. Here in the awesome USofA such things are protected. You are free to openly disagree with the President and his policies with NO WORRY of retribution. In other countries doing things like that would get you fired from your job, put on the nofly list, or even worse they dig up dirt on you and your family in an attempt to embarass or discredit you if you try to tell the truth.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (4, Informative)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942170)

Here in the awesome USofA such things are protected. You are free to openly disagree with the President and his policies with NO WORRY of retribution. In other countries doing things like that would get you fired from your job, put on the nofly list, or even worse they dig up dirt on you and your family in an attempt to embarass or discredit you if you try to tell the truth.

Except that political retribution happens here anyway. After the Venezuelan govt made inexpensive fuel available to poor Americans, the VZ fuel company CITGO is being put under a microscope by Congress.

Some Venezuelans who normally teach in the US have had their visas revoked, [democracynow.org] or their classes held-up. Government agents swaggering by your office saying "We have derrogatory information on you". "Blah Blah TERRORISM Blah Blah...", which is the new codeword for "We're not accountable to the Constitution".

If US efforts to dispense aid met with investigations by politicians, or US teachers were prevented from teaching abroad, the foreign country would be labeled "totalitarian" (except if you are fascist like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan-- then you get to buy ad time on our airwaves for propaganda).

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (1)

DRM_is_Stupid (954094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941729)

We Americans are proud of our right to freedom of expression: http://yeastradio.podshow.com/?p=470 [podshow.com]

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941733)

Apropos that Preparing for Emergencies parody, what is that red symbol in the top left-hand corner supposed to mean? Turn on, set wallpaper to hello.jpg, tune in?

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941734)

Random trivia I found the other day by typing into the wrong window: whitehouse.gov is the first hit on google for "w".

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941792)

There is no "fair use" in Australian copyright law. There's "fair dealing" but it doesn't cover parody.

Re:Parodies, "fair use" and Melbourne IT (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941847)

I think the full blame should fall on Melbourne IT. When they received the request to have the site taken down, they should have asked the Government staffer what law the site was breaking, and when the staffer replied "None, we just don't like it" (or something to that effect), they should have told the staffer to go jump.

To: "President" George W. Bush +1, Seditious (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941562)


Shut down this Al-Qaeda Portal [whitehouse.org] .

Attack Iran. They want to sell oil for Euros.

Feloniously as always,
President-VICE Richard B. Cheney

Fascism spreads (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941563)

It's the way of the world, folks. Our corporate masters can't have you exposed to a different world view, now can they. And, of course the citizens who should be protecting the old "democratic" system are way too busy.

Re:Fascism spreads (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941593)

I fail to see how the "corporate masters" had anything to do with this one. To me it seems like the ones with the guns, the gov't, forced the hands of the company. But I guess it is easier to hate a company than hate the state everyone seems to live. can't live without the gov't!

Re:Fascism spreads (1)

apenzott (821513) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941917)

can't live without the gov't!

Sure ya' can, it's called anarchy, just ask any Iraqi citizen.

Re:Fascism spreads (1)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941597)

It's the way of the world, folks. Our corporate masters can't have you exposed to a different world view, now can they. And, of course the citizens who should be protecting the old "democratic" system are way too busy.

Luckily we have crazy people with tinfoil hats who are fresh out meds reminding us.

Re:Fascism spreads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14942113)

It may be going too far to say there are corporate masters. It may be going to far to say that most people are too busy trying to make a living to take much part in politics.

It is most definitely going to far to imply someone is crazy and in need of medication for having an opinion.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941569)

looks like this was not Minitrue approved!
And there I was thinking parodical works were protected

Google cache (5, Informative)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941574)

Re:Google cache (1)

dema (103780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941934)

I wonder if the gov't ever would have even noticed the site if every link except for the speeches didn't point to the official pages.

Re:Google cache (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942165)

Well, that's hilarious. "Address to the 10th Anniversary Dinner, Westin Hotel, Sydney, 02 March 2006" *wipes tear*

Why can't people take a joke any more? (5, Insightful)

HellYeahAutomaton (815542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941594)

Politicians are in the public eye, and should expect satire and public attention. No one forced them to be politicians. Danish cartoons causing bloodshed, and now this. Does the Australian government think its people so dumb that they can't distinguish parody from sincerity?

What a miserable miserable world we live in.

Re:Why can't people take a joke any more? (1)

pbailey (225135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941616)

I think what they don't like is the fact that "many a truth is spoken in jest".

Can't have the masses knowing what is really going on if at all possible!

Re:Why can't people take a joke any more? (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941672)

Politicians truly believe ignorance is bliss. Ignorance by the votors is political bliss.

Re:Why can't people take a joke any more? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941648)

Does the Australian government think its people so dumb that they can't distinguish parody from sincerity?

Alternativly this disability is common amongst politicians.

Re:Why can't people take a joke any more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941712)

I think you mjust discriminated against politicians on the basis of disability! That's illegal. No it's not at all funny. Be ashamed.

Re:Why can't people take a joke any more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941809)

Stupidity is not a disability. Inferences to such make people with genuine disabilities look bad.

Some people have no sense of humour (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941606)


Politicians should grow some thicker skin in Oz. Hard to imagine a more thin skinned bunch, what next, censorship, oh, wait, that's exactly what it is.

50 years ago, March 17th, 1956, Fred Allen, born May 31, 1894 in Cambridge MA to irish catholic parents, famed comedy writer and radio comedian, died of a heart attack while walking his dog.

I'll toast him with a pint of Guinness. Thanks Fred, for all the laughs.

What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941608)

I would much rather be able to see boobs on commerical television, than criticize my own government.

Re:What's the problem? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941657)

I, for one, don't want to see the boobs of an Australian politician.

It doesn't look like satire to me (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941609)

Of course, I'm not Australian, and I may not be catching their humor.

However, the PDF document looks "offical" enough to possibly be the "real thing".

If this is satire, it's not translating well. It's no surprise the government wanted it taken down.

Re:It doesn't look like satire to me (5, Insightful)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941756)

Satire doesn't have to be "Ha Ha" funny. I'm American. I follow world politics fairly loosely, and I can tell that the Australian PM, wossisname, Um, Howard Dean? Nah. Oh, yeah, John Howard didn't write that. His political allies would shit kittens, then have him commited to the loonie bin for saying those things.

Re:It doesn't look like satire to me (2, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942013)

I'm American. I follow world politics fairly loosely


Will you be running for President? ;o)

Re:It doesn't look like satire to me (2, Funny)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942063)

I have too much self respect to do that.

Re:It doesn't look like satire to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14942109)

I'm an American. I don't follow world politics at all. So as far as I know, those are his real views. Without some clue to us clueless that it is meant as satire, it's just false representation.

Backfire! (2, Insightful)

redelm (54142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941611)

As usual, attempts to ban something mostly just serve as publicity.


It would have been better to request that the material clearly be labelled "parody" or "fiction", because some wankers might be confused and think Howie is a nice guy.

I'm glad to see... (4, Funny)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941622)

I'm glad to see that Australia now has the same level of freedoms as Iran, North Korea, and China.

I love the Austrailian people and I hope that the US will liberate them from their repressive government sometime soon.

Not only that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941748)

>>... I hope that the US will liberate them from their repressive government sometime soon

Not only that, John Howard will be helping US doing it.

Wait! Dang! Loop!

>^C
>^D
>quit
>close
>q!
>bye

Re:I'm glad to see... (2, Insightful)

Zzesers92 (819281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941819)

Wow, the Australia government does something facists and you actually managed to make an anti-American dig as a result! I'm impressed.

America has problems, yes, but when another country demonstrates their similar inperfections to the world, can't we hold them accountable without trashing the US in the same breath?

How about just a "Boo Australia" in this case?

I'd rather (3, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941933)

In the U.S. we're supposed to be a beacon of freedom and tolerance. When we don't meet these ideals, they should be pointed out. In fact, people are doing us a favor for pointing out our flaws because it's possible we don't see them ourselves.

Let me use an analogy... If I have some food on the corner of mouth after I eat, I hope my friends will tell me about it, and not just ignore it because some guy down the hall spilled his entire meal on his tie.

People from around the world point out our flaws because we're disappointing them. After we did so much to liberate the world from tyranny in the 20th century, they want us to continue in the 21st. And if we don't meet that benchmark, then they want to tell us to get better.

Re:I'm glad to see... (0)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941960)

Boo Australia

Re:I'm glad to see... (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942216)

America has problems, yes, but when another country demonstrates their similar inperfections to the world, can't we hold them accountable without trashing the US in the same breath?

Well they're part of the same WAR coalition, so I don't see why not. The parody in question is about Iraq, you know.

Re:I'm glad to see... (1)

mshmgi (710435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942055)

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan ... "We have outlawed The Austrailian government - the bombing will begin in 5 minutes. Oh, wait, is this microphone on???"

Any body not a bloody flaming gallah can tell it (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941627)

... that it isn't Little Johnny Howard.

It has long been my habit to keep aquainted with opinions opposed to my own, and to canvas a wide range of views.

That line really made me laugh.

Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OUT (5, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941634)

He said that after two days of silence, a customer service representative from Melbourne IT today informed him by telephone that the site had "been closed on the advice from the Australian Government"

People know censorship when they see it.
People do not like being censored.
I suggest if you are an Aussie and this bothers you, vote John Howard and his friends out of office.

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941726)

You'd be surprised at just how many people are actually in favor of censorship. I saw some study once (can't remember where) that said almost half of the people they surveyed would be in favor of outlawing "dangerous" speech, meaning ideas dissenting from the majority. This is why more people don't vote against these politicians.

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941762)

Have you seen the other options?

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941864)

Have you seen the other options?

Honestly, I haven't, and the options in the US are not much better.
What a truly pathetic state of politics the world is in.
Noone that is honest and good would last 2 days in elected office nowadays, that is if they even considered running for elected office.
Even the most good would lose in a landslide.

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941772)

I suggest if you are an Aussie and this bothers you, vote John Howard and his friends out of office.

We would, but there's nobody to vote into office. All we can chose from is a bunch of near-identical lying pricks.

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941998)

Shame you have to replace him with somebody, the place would probably run better with noone at the helm.

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (1)

thepotoo (829391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942035)

Not like we have it any different here in the US.
Democracy is pretty much a joke these days. Here's an idea, though: Vote independent, or write in your own name. If enough people protest the system like this, eventually a cantidate will come along to take advantage of this.

Re:Tired of John Howard and the like? VOTE THEM OU (1)

hool5400 (257022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941796)

There are many things that bother Australians, including the government, but it seems that we like having a prick in charge. It's like domestic violence, if he beats me, it means he can protect me by beating others the same way he beats me. It's fucked up, and it seems people want it that way.

Australia??? (2, Funny)

shabushabu (961717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941645)

Are we really talking about Australia here? Or am I suffering from this rare disorder that causes me to misread "China" as "Australia"

Free speech in Austrailia? (5, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941649)

Don't they have free speech in Austrailia?

This wouldn't happen in the USA because we have free speech. Except if a lesbian is offended, then it's sexual harrassment. Or on campuses with a speech code. Or it you want to advertise cigarettes. Or alcohol. Or if you want to run political ads, then it might violate campaign finance reform, even if it's exactly like this John Howard web site.

So this wouldn't happen in the USA in the early 80s. We sort-of had free speech back then.

Re:Free speech in Austrailia? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941744)

Except if a lesbian is offended, then it's sexual harrassment.


Yeah, lesbians are stopping free speech... nice one.

Re:Free speech in Austrailia? (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941768)

I wish I had mod points, I would mod you up.

He's right. Free Speech in America is trumped by Political Correctness. It makes me sick to see how far we have fallen as a nation, and even sicker to see other countries following our lead. (on this issue, anyway.)

Re:Free speech in Austrailia? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941820)

This wouldn't happen in the USA because we have free speech. Except...

True story, and this happened just two days ago.

A guy I know owns two bars, one here in Springfield and one in Riverton (Illinois). Yes, the same Springfield that got flattened by tornados last Sunday night.

Riverton is under a boil order, I think their water purification plant was out of power for a few days (my power just came back on Tuesday night, still no cable TV or internet).

So Dave, the bar owner, put up a sign outside his Riverton bar that read "Riverton's water is bad, drink beer instead."

As I was eating lunch in Dave's Springfield bar, the phone rang. Dave seemed both amused and bemused after the call, chuckling and shaking his head.

Riverton's city water commissioner had called the bartender demanding that they take the sign down!

I don't think Dave complied, though. Someone else under the same circumstances might have.

Sad what we are losing.

(Sorry for the a/c, I'm at work. mcgrew here.)

Re:Free speech in Austrailia? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941896)

Right on, dude!

I'm glad at least someone is talking about how the Republican controlled federal government is constantly trying to limit our free speech and curtail our civil liberties, while weighing us down in record federal debt and promoting the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries.

And you're right, this shit wouldn't have happened here in the 90's, when we had a President who could balance the budget and capture terrorists who attacked the WTC.

I'm with you, let's vote against the Republicans this November. At least the Democrats have proven they can run the economy and capture terrorists.

Yeah, yeah, I know, you're absolutely right. Voting for some third party like the Libertarians or the Greens is a luxury we just can't afford this November. We can't afford to lose any more cities or start any more wars, which is always a possibility if the Republicans stay in power.

Re:Free speech in Austrailia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941981)

Excellent troll. I see you have the moderators fooled.

Sad that so many people actually agree with you, isn't it?

Chilling. (5, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941656)


Well, I've looked at the PDF [richardneville.com] of the satire website, comparing it with the real deal [pm.gov.au] , and I have to say that the two are extremely similar....virtually identical with the exception of content. In this light, the reason offered by Bruce Tonkin, the chief technology officer of Melbourne IT, holds a bit of water:
"If we receive a complaint from an intellectual property basis claiming that a website directly infringes the rights of another site we would check it, and if it is a direct copy we would suspend the site," he said.
Upon closer observation, however, this reason leaks like a sieve. The parody websise is not a direct copy...far from it, since the content is radically different. This reason also conveniently glosses over the rather important fact that the Melbourne IT was ordered to yank the website by the Australian Government.

Mr.Tonkin goes on to say:
"To us it looks like a phishing site."
Phishing??? Phishing for what??? This claim is patently ridiculous.

The reason Melbourne IT yanked the website is pure and simple: they were told to by the Government.

Our fundamental human rights are being slowly whittled away...not only in America, but around the world. There is no save harbor. There is nowhere to hide from the oppression. Concerned citizens have to make a stand now...not because it is the right thing to do, but because they have no other option, finding themselves with their backs against the wall.

Re:Chilling. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941721)

Phishing??? Phishing for what??? This claim is patently ridiculous.

It's an easy enough misunderstanding: a phishing site looks like a genuine site, but isn't.

Yes, he's missed the point that phishing is about data capture not misinformation but I wouldn't rag him too hard, he's in the right ballpark.

Re:Chilling. (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941868)


It's an easy enough misunderstanding: a phishing site looks like a genuine site, but isn't.

Parody sites look like genuine sites too. That's the general point of parody.

Yes, he's missed the point that phishing is about data capture not misinformation but I wouldn't rag him too hard, he's in the right ballpark.

"The right ballpark"????? For Chrissakes....he's the chief technology officer at Melbourne IT [melbourneit.com.au] . If he doesn't fucking understand what a phishing site is, Melbourne IT Needs a new CTO.

What's more likely? That a CTO of a major ISP actually doesn't understand the concept of a 'phishing site', or said CTO is prevaricating because the Government is breathing down his neck? You do the math.

Re:Chilling. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942161)

Unless the Parody is obvious to the majority of the populous, I would say if false on the other side to "Slander"

That's where the AU Gov when wrong. They should have branded it as slander and NOT phishing. That was the first and fatal misjudgement as to why this is being brought up in question on Slashdot.

Re:Chilling. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941974)

I wouldn't rag him too hard, he's in the right ballpark.
I would, because he isn't. He broke the rule. The one that goes: "Don't try to look a liitle bit smarter by using words[1] you don't know the meaning of; if you get it wrong, you'll look really, really stupid."

[1] Even silly made up 733tspe4k 0n3z. Especially those, in fact.

Re:Chilling. (1)

blibbler (15793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941787)

>Upon closer observation, however, this reason leaks like a sieve. The parody websise is not a direct copy...far from it, since the content is radically different. This reason also conveniently glosses over the rather important fact that the Melbourne IT was ordered to yank the website by the Australian Government.

Copyright can exist in the layout of a website. In many countries, parody would be protected under a "fair use" provision, however Australia doesn't protect fair use, and additionally has no rights of free speech. The Australian Government was entirely within their rights to do this... however that doesn't make it right.

Re:Chilling. (1)

DRM_is_Stupid (954094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941794)

In the States, the point is irrelevant if the style/layout is sort of similar or very similar. It doesn't matter, since parodies are exempt from copyright restrictions.

This is what a parody is about! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941659)

For crying out loud! A parody is to make fun of something by keeping enough alike to make it seem "real" while twisting enough to make it "too real" or "too weird".

For me, it seems like the PM was afraid his voters are dumb enough to actually take the parody as a real statement from him.

Or maybe his speeches are nonsensical enough that a spoof COULD actually be real.

The choice is his.

Satire (2, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941660)

I'm probably going to get marked as a troll or something but the site (see google cache elsewhere) does indeed try to look identical to the real site and links everything but the speeches to the original site, down to the copyright notice.
Copying material for satire is probably legal in this case, but he should not have misrepresented ownership of the text he wrote.

As an Australian ... (2, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941665)

when I was reading the "speech" I could hear it as the words of John Howard. Whoever wrote it did a great job in mimicking Howard's speech writers. It seemed spot on to me.

On the other hand, for the Aussies reading this .. my visions of John Howard were formed in the 80's from the radio comedy How green was my cactus [cactus.com.au] where his character was "Little Johnny Howard". I'll never be able to shake that caricature of him :-)

But yeah .. it sucks not to have free speech.

Johnny gets tough! (3, Insightful)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941691)

Well at last he's doing something about sedition [news.com.au] instead of just talking about it. I'd better stop thinking freely.

Any Australian would know this is a fake speech because the Mr Howard is pathologically unable to apologise for anything.

Re:Johnny gets tough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14941741)

Any Australian would know this is a fake speech because the Mr Howard is pathologically unable to apologise for anything.

You mean your conservative party has been hijacked by people like this too?
Well, at least yours admits that global warming is real even if they don't like Kyoto.

What do you expect...? (0, Troll)

McFadden (809368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941718)

John Howard is a fully paid up member of the "Coalition of the Willing". Bush's buddies, hellbent on "bringing democracy to Iraq" whilst simultaneously removing any trace of it from their own countries.

Which lies are worse? (1, Interesting)

lu-darp (469705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941752)

Given the attention span of your average internet reader, I imagine many people WILL miss the satire. However, which lies are worse?

The lies of the author, claiming to be John Howard? A desperate ploy in desperate times, an attempt to catch the attention of people who may not have read the truth behind all the Pre-War propaganda. (With a healthy dose of humour, once you catch on)

Or the lies and exagerations of the propaganda to gain public approval? Just get the impression out that it's not really that bad: first impressions count, not boring facts that come out later on. It's all right Joe Public, sit back and watch the news like another TV show. Don't complain to your ministers. There's no real people in TV land, are there?

Our politicians have lot to learn (2, Interesting)

CSHARP123 (904951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941758)

During my recent trip to India, also horribly touched with extremist violence, I was reminded by their soft spoken Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, that the British had seriously erred by clinging too long to their former colony. Despite widespread opposition to their presence, British politicians continued to insist that their departure would lead to chaos. Dr Singh said, 'But it would be our chaos, dont you see?' At that moment I understood what he was saying.

Atleast people in India seems to elect a sensible PM. Our politicians have lot to learn. May be Indians elect educated people to the top post(current president used to be a scientist). Especially in US, we have elected an idiot to the top post and enitre world is affected by him. No wonder world hates us.

Re:Our politicians have lot to learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14942152)

Yes that it true. As a whole indian politicians are not very clean but people at top do maintain some dignity and that is one of the reasons of our current growth.

Rights vs Laws (3, Insightful)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941793)

This is one of those tricky intersections of "rights" and "law." Note that "rights" are things we have whether the law recognizes it or not. That's the classic liberal "natural law" version, and it's what most modernized democracies found their legal system on. Among those rights are speech, especially the right to speech of a political nature. The law protects IP because such laws ultimately benefit everybody (in theory), but this guy MIGHT be breaking IP laws to make a political statement. My take would be that his political statement isn't being silenced, just this particular method of making it. The guy could probably re-package or re-do the web site to make it more clearly a parody and get around the IP laws on this. What pisses me off is that it was just SHUT DOWN rather than trying this very reasonable intermediate step.

Only ourselves to blame (5, Interesting)

davem2 (961858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14941890)

Australians have no legal guarantee of free speech and we've never demanded one. All Western Governments have been clamping down on human rights since 9/11 and people keep voting them back in.

What's in a name? (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942014)

I'm reminded of John Howard's apology in The Games [abc.net.au] . Except that in that apology the distinguished, official-looking gentleman delivering the speech never claimed to be anybody other than John Howard, speaking from Sydney Australia.

This was perfectly true: he really was John Howard [imdb.com] , just not the John Howard [pm.gov.au] . But few people outside of Australia know what the John Howard who hangs out in Canberra looks like...

...laura

Back to the good old days (2, Funny)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942022)

Rotten tomatoes will make a comeback!

The internet upsets a free society (3, Interesting)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942074)

Historically, free societies have been controlled very easily because the means of mass producing propoganda were easily centered in the hands of a few elites. Basically, the same people who sold you your thoughts every day were the ones who bought your government every day. The internet has blown the hinges off this system. Now, you have small fries all over the world projecting power and strength well beyond what the system has determined is their right. One blog, backed by a good mind, can destroy a politician. And the bastards are scared. This sort of arbitrary exercise of authority is exactly what people do when they're scared. The system is trying to get a handle on the internet, before the internet becomes big enough and strong to end their control of the means of production of propoganda. Unfortunately, that boat has already sailed. It's hard being a pol.

Sounds like the DMCA (1)

AnyThingButWindows (939158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942122)

This sounds just like the DMCA. It is a outright pure restriction on freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. If this were to happen in the United States, no one would say anything, and it would be silenced in the name of national security, or some other right winged, freedom hating Bush initiative.

Some Things Don't Change (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14942153)

"... There are men of ambition so depraved, who would rejoice to be called wicked, if with that they could appear what the corruptions of the word, and the servility of historians, have denominated great.

"But these same men would never have courage to consummate their crimes, were they taught that these crimes would render them contemptible, and still more, ridiculous."

... William Sampson, "The Causes of the Troubles in Ireland" [rewinn.com] , 1806

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