If you’re planning on visiting Australia next year, leave the video camera home. Also, the digital still camera, audio recorder, and laptop.
A change to the country’s copyright law could make it illegal to carry any such equipment.
The proposals would make it an indictable offense – one that must go before the justice system – for someone to possess a device with the intention of using it to infringe copyright. Previously, such infringements have generally been dealt with by paying damages to the copyright holder, without the involvement of the courts.
The key legal point, of course, is “intention”.
If I take a video of a street band playing a copyrighted song and post it to my blog, will I have broken the law in Australia? I certainly intended for people to see it if I upload it to the web.
But how do you prove that I intended to violate copyright? And did I really violate copyright? Maybe all I’m doing is documenting someone else breaking the law.
Of course, none of this directly affects those of us who don’t live down under.
However, our home-grown media companies are always looking for new ideas to lock up the products they sell to us.
An Americanized variation could be their next import.