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Copyright Law Used to Shut Down Site

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the bad-usage dept.

Censorship 206

driptray writes "The Sydney Morning Herald reports that an Australian mining industry group has used copyright laws to close a website that parodied a coal industry ad campaign. A group known as Rising Tide created the website using the slogan "Rising sea levels: brought to you by mining" in response to the mining industry's slogan of "Life: brought to you by mining". The mining industry claimed that the "content and layout" of the parody site infringed copyright, but when Rising Tide removed the copyrighted photos and changed the layout, the mining industry still lodged a complaint. Is this a misuse of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?"

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well.. (4, Interesting)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238250)

Well at least parody is still legal in the US. Is anyone else surprised how repressive Australia and the UK can be?

Is it? (0, Flamebait)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238342)

It can work just the same way in the US. It would be the marketing company cracking down on you for using their layout, their format, their slogan (albeit twisted), not the company you're parodying.

Re:Is it? (5, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238468)

It can work just the same way in the US. It would be the marketing company cracking down on you for using their layout, their format, their slogan (albeit twisted), not the company you're parodying.

Pretty well established Supreme Court decisions on the matter. Both the copyright and libel angles of parody have been smacked down by the US Supreme Court. So unless they come up with a new angle, it's unlikely this would fly far in the US.

Re:Is it? (2, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239760)

Guess what? Parody is well established under Australian law, too, but this happened regardless. The issue is far more to do with misapplication of the statute to enforce your will on a much smaller entity, not an (I know, blasphemy here) inherent flaw in (at least this aspect of) copyright law itself.

Re:Is it? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239986)

I'm assuming this is due to the universal truth, that no matter how much the law is on your side, if you don't have the money for the class of lawyer needed to head off a legal threat, the law might as well not exist at all. Nuisance lawsuit legislation can help, but I've heard from people who have had it happen that there is nothing so frightening, even if you know you're in the right, as a cease and desist order from MegaCompany.

Re:Is it? (2, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238518)

From wikipedia: The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody "is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works."

Sounds like you could use layout, and graphics to me. Ive been thinking of starting a parody website. I thought I would be invincible legally here in the US.

Re:Is it? (4, Informative)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238682)

Sounds like you could use layout, and graphics to me. Ive been thinking of starting a parody website. I thought I would be invincible legally here in the US.

It has to be clear that the site is a parody, and not the actual site. If a typical user could not tell the site is a parody, then it is on shaky ground. My guess is the original site very closely aped teh original, having done that they are given far less leeway on subsequent go-rounds. So you can mock their slogan if the rest of the site is different, but if layout, graphics, are identical while teh slogan is similar, it will get shutdown in the US too. Parody i snot the "get out of jail free" card some folks think it is.

Re:Is it? (1)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239474)

I would doubt the site would have the same content though... Images, sure... But the words on the page would clearly be parodied otherwise what's the point of using a parodied version of the slogan? If they really did just copy everything and just change the slogan though, then you're correct--they did deserve to get pulled for that.

Re:Is it? (4, Insightful)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239682)

"It has to be clear that the site is a parody, and not the actual site."
If someone can't tell the difference after reading a small sample of each site, then apparently the mining industry needs to hire better PR representatives.

One more thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239878)

IANAL, but my understanding is that it's only a parody if it's a parody of what you're copying.

E.G. I can't use GI-Joe to make a parody of, I dunno, the Transformers. I'd have to use the GI-Joes to parody themselves.

In other words, the work used and the work parodied have to be the same.

No, I really don't think that rule makes any sense...

"The Other White Milk" (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239550)

Nope, this kind of stomping on parody by big business never happens in the US:

http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/2007/02/overzealo us-big-pork-stomps-on.html [blogspot.com]

I don't know these people, just saw it on a rights blog.

Note that they have still never used the slogan beyond the original 2 T-Shirt sales...

Re:well.. (2, Interesting)

hnile_jablko (862946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238376)

There are heaps of shows in Oz that parody everything from sport, to business and news. I find it odd that this has happened. Especially considering the parody website does not appear to be making money from it. Being an american/australian, I find Australia is a lot less repressive than the US, while the UK has its problems, not sure I would say that it is more repressive etc. I for one welcome our new Aussie copyright litigator overlords.

Re:well.. (0, Troll)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238442)

I find Australia is a lot less repressive than the USIt is? You cant even own guns.

Re:well.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238542)

But they have knives, and baby eating dingos, and Bloomin' Onions... mmm, bloomin' onions....

Re:well.. (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240066)

Speaking as an expat Australian, I (and people I know) have never heard of "bloomin' onions", let alone had them as a staple fare.

Re:well.. (1)

hnile_jablko (862946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239326)

Are guns the only guage you are using as a comparison? There are far greater number of things than just this one thing which make up a country's oppressive/repressive nature.

Re:well.. (1, Interesting)

clark0r (925569) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239332)

and there's always news about guns being put to good use in the US ;)

Re:well.. (1)

clark0r (925569) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239522)

and there's always news about guns being put to good use in the US ;) Hell, you only need them for revolution and you can't even start one of those when it's needed!

Re:well.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238592)

Yes, in the US, nobody would complain if someone was imitating their slogan, as US laws are fair and balanced.

</straight face>

Re:well.. (2, Informative)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239872)

fair and balanced.

Hah! Good one!

In case it went over anyone's head, I think he was punning on this [washingtonpost.com]

Re:well.. (5, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239386)

It may well be legal in Australia, too; this looks like an ISP that rolls over and dies whenever a complaint is lodged. Nowhere does it say that the Minerals Council demonstrated a copyright infringement, it just says that they complained and the host took the site down. It hasn't gone to court, and it looks to me as if the Minerals Council is just hoping that Rising Tide won't have the resources to mount an effective legal challenge. I understand that such things happen in the USA, too.

MasterShake = Unemployed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239882)

Dude, you've been FP on every topic today. Do you need work? Life a bit slow?

Australian copyright may be different than US (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238260)

Something like this would probably be okay in the United States as a fair use parody.

Re:Australian copyright may be different than US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239128)

Something like this would probably be okay in the United States as a fair use parody.


Because we all know how flawless and without corruption US legal system is and nothing like this could happen there? No silly lawsuits in US?

Re:Australian copyright may be different than US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239714)

No, simply trying to prevent the flood of "PARODY IS FAIR USE!!!" posts from people not thinking about the fact Australia may in fact have different laws and legal standards.

Re:Australian copyright may be different than US (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239818)

Parody is fair use under Australian law. That's not the problem. The problem is that, despite that, it was used to successfully batter a smaller opponent into the ground.

From Wikipedia: (4, Informative)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238264)


Parody: Copyright Issues
______________________________________________

Although a parody can be considered a derivative work under United States Copyright Law, it can be protected under the fair use doctrine, which is codified in 17 USC 107. The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody "is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works." That commentary function provides some justification for use of the older work. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.

Other notable US court decisions involving parody include Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin (Affirming the right of Alice Randall to publish a parody of Gone with the Wind called The Wind Done Gone, which told the same story from the point of view of Scarlett O'Hara's slaves),

((Then again, that's in the US. Not sure about Australia))

Australia is not a part of the US (-1, Redundant)

Aurisor (932566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238586)

As you may or may not be aware, Australia is not a part of the US and has managed to avoid becoming subject to many US laws.

Re:Australia is not a part of the US (4, Funny)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238652)

Yeah... it's more of a British prison island, right?

Re:Australia is not a part of the US (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239196)

Yep, and America used to be a colony of Britain. But these days it's the other way round... have you been reading too many conspiracy theories?

Re:Australia is not a part of the US (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238738)

As you are very clearly not aware, I mentioned this in my post.

Re:Australia is not a part of the US (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238870)

Grandparent:

((Then again, that's in the US. Not sure about Australia))

Parent:

As you may or may not be aware, Australia is not a part of the US and has managed to avoid becoming subject to many US laws.

I don't know about you, but my vote is on the grandparent being aware that AUS is not part of the US, and that the legal code is different. Because, after all, he explicitly stated it for your benefit.

That said, Australian copyright law uses the concept of fair dealing, which is different than fair use in the US. From what I understand, it's less forgiving than fair use.

And that said, the US and Australia entered into agreement in 2004 (AUSFTA) that standardized the definitions of infringing behaviors between the two countries as part of the IP section of the treaty. What I'm not sure of is whether the standards apply only for international copyright issues, or purely domestic issues such as this one.

Generally, FTA treaties require that the agreeing nations, when standards are established, use those standards for purely domestic issues as well as international issues, since to do otherwise could create a difference in the business climate in the nations who've signed on to the Free Trade Agreement.

An example of this is the US anti-internet-gambling law, which is being disputed in the WTO since the US now has different standards for domestic and international gambling sites.

Re:Australia is not a part of the US (2, Informative)

mhollis (727905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240048)

grandparent

Australia is not a part of the US and has managed to avoid becoming subject to many US laws.

The author of that comment clearly needs to read up on the concept of English Common Law [wikipedia.org] which is used in courts in the United States, Australia, Canada, South Africa and many other countries associated with the English legal system. In fact, this common law is in practice and frequently used in arguments in the European Economic Community.

I thought I would provide a link to the text of the AUSFTA [fta.gov.au] but I disagree that this trade agreement redefines the concept of fair dealing as used under Australian law. Unless the mining operation or the source of the parody is in the other signatory country, this agreement cannot be seen as in force. So I suppose the defendant ought to have had his or her lawyer refer more to the common law practice as it was developed in the United States under the Fair Use doctrine and see if the Australian courts would agree with that standard.

Coal == Evil Industry at its Best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238288)

"Kids are just better at technology"

"Like did you know coal plants are clean"

Congratulations kid. You sold out before you even got laid.

Bravo!

Walk the Walk. (-1, Flamebait)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238296)

How do you suppose they found the website? After all, I would have thought that people opposed to mining would have avoided products that were built using mined materials. You know, like computers.

Re:Walk the Walk. (2, Insightful)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238360)

Computer aren't built of coal, dumbass.

Re:Walk the Walk. (3, Funny)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238858)

Computer aren't built of coal, dumbass.

Perhaps not... but I believe in Australia they are, in fact, powered by coal.

Re:Walk the Walk. (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239356)

Actually, in Australia computers are powered by a delicious concoction of Foster's and Vegemite.

Re:Walk the Walk. (3, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238670)

After all, I would have thought that people opposed to mining would have avoided products that were built using mined materials.

Doubtlessly, you would have, if you view everything in black-and-white terms.

However, more thoughtful people realize that these things are a balance. Mining raw materials can be done responsibly and at moderate levels (far below current levels). But we won't get there if the mining industry just pretends there's no problem.

And this particular criticism was directed at coal mining. Everybody can certainly express their disapproval of coal mining by choosing products and energy providers that don't rely on it as much as possible. Note that some traditionally strong coal mining countries are giving up all coal mining over the next decade.

Re:Walk the Walk. (1)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239074)

Sometimes walking the walk is harmful to your long-term goals. Remember that they need computers to spread opinion and get laws created, and that they are not large enough a group to have any impact at all if they choose to walk the walk.

This is just like the fuckass "vote with your money" argument. Some people have more money than others, thus that wouldn't be a proper way to vote in a democracy. Stop complaining when people try to create grassroot movements, that's the way democracies work.

Isn't this a textbook fair use clause? (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238300)

IANAL, I mean if you could not use copyrighted material for parody, a lot of TV shows would be out of business. (SNL anyone)

-Em

Re:Isn't this a textbook fair use clause? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238480)

Parody is protected, so yea, this is pretty blatant abuse. The Supreme's have ruled on this over and over...Acuff-Rose [cornell.edu] is a good example (warning, legalese ahead).

Re:Isn't this a textbook fair use clause? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238584)

Oy mate, what's that mean in Sydney?

Re:Isn't this a textbook fair use clause? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238868)

Nothing, per se, but y'alls copyright law is damn similar to our own. No fair use protections?

Re:Isn't this a textbook fair use clause? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238578)

Australia, which you may have noticed by now, so SNL isn't hugely relevant.

Re:Isn't this a textbook fair use clause? (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238728)

Australia, which you may have noticed by now, so SNL isn't hugely relevant.
You mean US is not the only country that matters???? I am shocked, shocked I tell you ;-)

Yep, I totally missed the fact this was in Australia until after I posted. Oh well...

-Em

Visit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238304)

dotslash.org before it gets shutdown

Hilariously bad call. (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238370)

Parody is the get-out-of-jail-free card of copyright law, because in order for parody to be possible, you have to be able to copy the original work, at least to a point.

There is a tremendous amount of precedent and even law directed against this sort of copyright abuse, and, in the states at least, I'd expect it to be laughed out of anything but the most local and parochial courtroom.

Typical that it's big business pulling this crap...Energy company to boot. I hope they get slapped with all the legal fees, because that's clearly what this is about...Forcing the parody site to pay legal fees to win a case that they can easily win.

Stifle? (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238380)

"Is this a misuse of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?"

If it is, it totally failed! I'd have -never- heard of this if they hadn't done this. Now it's got more publicity than the little website could have handled, had it been up. (Does this count as a pre-slashdotting? ie: Site goes down before it's on slashdot.)

Before, should I happen to see something about this in passing, I'd have said 'Pfft. Activists.' and carried on. Now I -know- the mining industry wants this hushed. Suddenly, it seems a little more interesting and probable.

Ehrm... (1, Insightful)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238426)

Is this a misuse of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?

What did we say about ending with those silly questions?

Re:Ehrm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239274)

Is that a rhetorical question?

Re:Ehrm... (1)

The Darkness (33231) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240186)

Is this a misuse of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?


What did we say about ending with those silly questions?

Does it look like slashdot has become a game of Questions Only [whoseline.net] on Whose Line is it Anyway?

A little OT... (1, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238432)

"Life: brought to you by mining"

Are you kidding me?

I have nothing further to say.

TLF

Re:A little OT... (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238574)

Yeah, as everyone knows, Mining brings you Masonry and Bronze Working, which in turn gets you Metal Casting, Iron Working, Compass and Machinery. There's nothing about 'Life' in there at all.

Re:A little OT... (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238702)

those are improvements to living, but not really a 'brought to you by'. Dupont used to use "Better living through chemistry".

Re:A little OT... (1)

Steve Baker (3504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238978)

Discounting the vast improvements to life we have due to mining, I have one word for you:

Salt.

Wars used to be waged for the stuff, until improvements in mining made it plentiful. And since salt is necessary to life, their claim may not be so unreasonable.

Re:A little OT... (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239302)

We don't need much salt to live - less than a gram a day. That can easily be obtained from the sea. In fact, we eat so much salt in our modern diets that it's quite poisonous and we'd be better off with far less of the stuff.

On the other hand, without metals (lithium, iron, manganese, silver, aluminum, etc), modern technology and industrialization would be impossible.

Everyone lives near the sea? (1)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239354)

This is getting so off topic it hurts.
Life existed before mining, so life does not require mining. The current way of life REQUIRES mining.

The Moden Way of Life: brought to you by mining. Is that better?

Re:A little OT... (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238992)

Meh.

I bet the agriculture industry agrees... without mining, there's no way we could support the billions of people on planet Earth.. Yah, agriculture definitely doesn't do more than mining does for that! /sarcasm

Look, all I am saying is, that slogan is absurdly narrow-minded.

Hence the parody from the guys who made the site.

Oh and BTW, modders.. my OP actually wasn't Offtopic. It was about the VERY topic this story represents. But thanks for playing.

TLF

Re:A little OT... (1)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239956)

Look, all I am saying is, that slogan is absurdly narrow-minded.

Sorta like your view that mining isn't critical to a societal well-being...

If you want to go live in a grass hut somewhere, more power to you.

I prefer to live in a house that is built upon a mined product, held together with a mined product, with interior walls thanks to a mined product, using electricity carried by a mined product, drink fresh water via a mined product, transport sewage away in a mined product, drive a car that has a frame from a mined product, on roads composed entirely of mined product.

But, hey, that's just me...

Re:A little OT... (2, Funny)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240158)

Yeah, as everyone knows, Mining brings you Masonry and Bronze Working, which in turn gets you Metal Casting, Iron Working, Compass and Machinery. There's nothing about 'Life' in there at all.

Translated for my /. brethren...

Yeah, as everyone knows, Mining brings you Engineering and Blacksmithing , which in turn gets you Gnomish Engineering, Goblin Engineering, Armorsmith, and Weaponsmith, which in turn gets you Swordsmith, Axesmith, and Hammersmith. And to a lesser extent is used in Leatherworking and Jewelcrafting. There's nothing about 'Life' in there at all.

Ack, this is an example of NOT having a life. My mistake. Now, excuse me, I have to go farm some more Fel Iron. ;)

Cheers,
Fozzy

Re:A little OT... (1)

EL_mal0 (777947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239494)

EARTH FIRST!!

We'll mine other planets later

Re:A little OT... (1)

sid0 (1062444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239700)

So where else will you get the metal you use so often from?

Re:A little OT... (1)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239752)

Are you kidding me?

The source for EVERYTHING you use on a daily basis can be summed up like this:

If it can't be grown, it has to be mined.

Why do I always answer rhetorical question? (0, Redundant)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238446)

Is this a misuse of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?

Yes.

Re:Why do I always answer rhetorical question? (4, Funny)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238498)

I don't know. Why do you always answer rhetorical questions? Are you stupid or something?

Re:Why do I always answer rhetorical question? (2, Funny)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239144)

Grandma: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down before you can
                  call him a man?
    Homer: Seven!
      Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
    Homer: Rhetorical, eh? Eight!
      Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
    Homer: [incredulous] Do I know what "rhetorical" means?!

Re:Why do I always answer rhetorical question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239504)

No, are YOU stupid or something?

Takedown (5, Informative)

Any Web Loco (555458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238476)

Yes and no. The site-host has to respond to the Takedown notice within 24 hours. They will always take the site down first and then restore it later if there's no issue. From the hoster's point of view that's the best course of action - they can't get legal advice on every single takedown request they get. But it does mean the process is open to abuse by copyright holders. This is a good example of that.

The flipside to this is that, under Australian Copyright law, using copyrighted material for the purposees of satire is OK. It's great that this is getting so much attention. The satirists are within their rights and it makes the (enourmously powerful) mining lobby look like a bunch of wankers with no sense of humour. And in Australia it's almost sinful if you can't cope with having the piss taken out of you.

Re:Takedown (2, Interesting)

rosscoe (1000032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238990)

Same here in the UK, people very rarely complain about parady or satire because they know that if they do it will be 10 times worse for them. In fact its such a national passtime here that celebs etc ask to go on the very shows that take the piss out of them.

Fair dealing includes parody in Australia. (5, Informative)

zestyping (928433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238500)

According to the Australian Copyright Council [copyright.org.au] :

A person can make a "fair dealing" with copyright material for any of the following purposes:
  • research or study;
  • criticism or review;
  • parody or satire;
  • reporting news; or
  • professional advice by a lawyer, patent attorney or trade marks attorney.
The above is quoted from their Information Sheet on Fair Dealing [copyright.org.au] . The third page of that document has more detail on "Fair dealing for parody or satire" and draws a distinction between parody and satire:

A parody is an imitation of a work, and may include parts of the original. In some cases, a parody may not be effective unless parts of the original are included. It seems that the purpose of a true parody is to make some comment on the imitated work or on its creator.

The purpose of satire, on the other hand, is to draw attention to characteristics or actions - such as vice or folly - by using certain forms of expression - such as irony, sarcasm and ridicule. It seems that both elements are required: the object to which attention is drawn (vice or folly etc) and the manner in which it is done (irony, ridicule etc). It is not clear, for example, that a work which uses irony or ridicule about something other than something like vice or folly would be satire.

[...]

It is not so clear that use of a copyright work for satiric purposes would be as likely to be "reasonable" in all the circumstances. This is because, unlike parody, the object of satire is generally not the copyright material itself or its creator(s). The copyright material used may enhance a work that has a satirical purpose, but is unlikely to be necessary for the for the satirical purpose.

So.... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239286)

So, would that make a hacked version of Windows that has code to force a crash every 15 minutes a parody, and legal to distribute?

Australia (1)

netrage_is_bad (734782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238532)

The only thing that makes this legal is that the company and the website are located in australia.

You have to ask? (3, Insightful)

Tesral (630142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238580)

Yes, in a word. IMNAL and I don't know Australian law, but the art of parody manages to thrive there as well as in the US. This isn't even really a question as much as a statement.


It is also typical of the new customer service model; "Your satisfaction guaranteed, or we'll sue you". Companies instead of answering the public or ignoring parody aggressively attack it. It's a step up from Mob tactics, but a short step.

Does Australian law have the parody exception? (0, Redundant)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238582)

That's the golden question here. Can Australian law recognize this as fair use the way the American legal system can? I think it very well may not be able to because this group is being pretty bold, and I doubt they'd expose themselves if they had no legal leg to stand on the way they would in the United States.

Legit use for an evil goal (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238630)

The mining industry claimed that the "content and layout" of the parody site infringed copyright, but when Rising Tide removed the copyrighted photos and changed the layout, the mining industry still lodged a complaint. Is this a misuse of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?"

It must be an attempt to silence dissent, because there is no conceivable alternative reason for the mining industry to care. It's not like the parody site is selling natural gas or imported minerals or whatever in competition with local mines.

However, it is not necessarily a misuse of copyright law. The mining consortium probably invested a lot of resources into creating a unique and recognizable message for themselves, including a layout, color scheme, coordinating fonts, and so on. It's a complete package. When a parody takes that package and makes a minor alteration in order to dilute or destroy the original message, it ruins the future returns of the consortium's investment. Isn't that (at least in principle) what copyright law exists to prevent?

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of mining companies vis-a-vis the way they allow environmenal externalities to roll off them like water off a duck's back. But this still seems like a relevant use of copyright law -- even though the goal is nefarious.

And IIRC, the liberal right of parody applies to political targets, not so much to economic targets.

Re:Legit use for an evil goal (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239244)

"It's a complete package. When a parody takes that package and makes a minor alteration in order to dilute or destroy the original message, it ruins the future returns of the consortium's investment. Isn't that (at least in principle) what copyright law exists to prevent?"

I think you are thinking of trademark law, not copyright. From what little I know, international treaties on trademarks are made to protect them against similar use (one company vs another in a similar business) not to protect them from parody. I assume the US couldn't agree to a treaty that violated our constitutional right to free speech.

Re:Legit use for an evil goal (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239292)

When a parody takes that package and makes a minor alteration in order to dilute or destroy the original message, it ruins the future returns of the consortium's investment. Isn't that (at least in principle) what copyright law exists to prevent?

No, copyright law exists to prevent the design for being used on a website to advertise, say, Vegemite. Or, even to parody Vegemite. However, using the design for the specific purpose of making a comment about the original site is fair use.

Satire... (2, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238642)

It's called "satire." (And parody, of course.) I haven't liked it historically--although I do remember a fun article in a british pamphlet [gutenberg.org] from a while back about duelling. "Please, sir, show up at half-past ten in front of the convenience store so that we might stick swords in each other." Something like that... In any event, Colbert is the more recent example. The Colbert Report satirizes O'Reilly, and O'Reilly would certainly shut Colbert down if he could. Satire and Parody is one of the few parts of the constitution that has actually remained pretty powerful--that particular application of free speech laws. This is something that the U.S. does right.

No Copying, Thus No Fair Use Needed (5, Interesting)

skywire (469351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238684)

The discussion here has immediately moved into the area of parody fair use. A quick comparison of the sites in question reveals nothing that even approaches being a copy or derivative work. The text and artwork are original. Unless Australian law allows a phrase such as "brought to you by mining" to be copyrighted, this whole fair use tangent is beside the point.

Re:No Copying, Thus No Fair Use Needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238878)

Unless Australian law allows a phrase such as "brought to you by mining" to be copyrighted
This comment brought to you by the letter "Z"...

Re:No Copying, Thus No Fair Use Needed (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238998)

This comment brought to you by the letter "Z"...

      Next in the news, the letter "Z" is being sued by the number "2" for copyright infringement, saying that "Z" bears an unreasonably close likeness and is maliciously capitalizing on this fact.

Re:No Copying, Thus No Fair Use Needed (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240046)

(Note: as has been mentioned by others, this is a case out of Australia. Nevertheless, I'm only going to talk about US copyright principles, which I think would still apply.)

I can't get to the sites at the moment, but note that one does not need to actually copy text or graphics to infringe. In general, you need some form of creative authorship. A creative layout is protected, even if what fills it in is completely different. Decisions about what types of things to put into that layout are also protected. Note, though, that the farther away you get from rote copying, the less protection is afforded to the work.

Consider, for example, Harry Potter: anybody can write a book about teenage wizards at a magic school in the U.K. -- that's just an unprotected idea. Under *Copyright law*, you can even use the name "Harry Potter." (But, you'd run into trademark problems.) But, once you start filling in plot and setting details with corresponding details from a Harry Potter book, you begin to cross the line into protected content, even if you don't actually use J.K. Rowling's sentences.

(Note that copyright and plagiarism are different.)

Slashdoted: ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238704)

brought to you by Slashdot

MCA breaks the first rule of parody (1)

Rabid Spud (957863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238742)

keep your mouth shut......

Ahhghhhh! (5, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238758)

Stop tacking these 3rd grade essay questions on the end of each post!

It's not like Slashdot had no discussion happening before you started doing that, you know :)

Mining should be good for Sea Levels! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238792)

Those holes should give all that excess water a place to go.

Misuse? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238840)

It all depends on if it helps you or hurts you..

Leading question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238866)

If you're going to put in an editorial, why would you put in a leading question like that.

It certainly does seem like an attempt to stifle dissent via copyrights in this case. They will try to stifle dissent in other ways too. It's kinda foolish, because in the end, the parody site gets more publicity.

3rd world country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238930)

Oz is a third world country when it comes to copyright and Internet law.

"Shutdown" is not a verb, darn it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239054)

Learn to spell, darn it.

Not that impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239110)

You could do that with telnet or terminal server for years. And I also doubt Copyright Law has the ability to send the wake-on-lan packets needed to be truely useful.

Shutdown is not a verb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18239304)

Get some editors who speak English, please.

Using Copyright to shutdown a site (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239322)

I've thought about this lately. I've been concerned if I posted anything like Comcast's logo or anything on my blog that remotely looked like them that I would be shutdown.

I'm at http://comcastissue.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] and have had a few people email me asking if I was concerned Comcast might come after me for something. Not really as it's clearly stated at the top that it's my opinion and experience with the company. Besides, I'm very good at keeping records. I have records backing up everything I said.

I've even recently posted my phone records, a screen shot of our customer history (got it from a Comcast CSR last week) along with other things I've been saving. So if I'm shutdown for Copyright then there is a serious problem with those laws. The blog is clean.

Re:Using Copyright to shutdown a site (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239812)

Based on your early blogs, it sounds a lot like a virus turned your computer(s) into a botnet. Did you ever take a look into that angle to see if that's what was causing your problem?

Shut down (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239622)

... is two words.

Is this a misuse (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239650)

of copyright law in order to stifle dissent?

No. Of course not. This is exactly what it was designed for. What a silly question. The slightest glance at the history of it should make it obvious. Yet you all continue to swallow the lies. What a shame. I don't know how much longer you can keep your eyes closed, but after seeing the results of the Chicago mayoral election, it looks like it can be for a long time to come.

It is a dumb idea to parody (1)

steven.coco (843672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239902)

If they really gave such a crap about the problem they would not make confusing stupidity that is rooted in vain glory, and instead they would write clearly what's wrong. And start a civil suit if they can. That way our grandparents can get involved too.

Parody weenies just want to get their privates stroked by being known as "the one that exposed it all".

Enough with the questions! (1)

thejeffer (864748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240120)

Start tagging stories with these insipid, pointless questions tacked on the end as "stupidquestion".

<sq>Will they finally get the point?</sq>
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