Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Australian copyright law will be decided in Washington

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A number of other moves in Australia indicate the extent to which the government is bending over for the Americans. Last week, reforms that would allow for the retention of data collected from web histories of connected devices for up to two years were unveiled. Secret anti-piracy talks were going on sometime back to bring ISPs into line.

And earlier this year, legislation was amendedto make it easier to extradite Australian citizens for so-called criminal matters.

But still we have people lauding the verdict rendered in the iiNet case, when the copyright industry sued the ISP and got its backside kicked thrice. That verdict will be of no use as a precedent once new laws come in, courtesy of the US of A.

But aren't the Americans our greatest friends, I hear you ask. Don't we have a special relationship with Uncle Sam? Cast your minds back to 2004, when John Howard, who was more pro-American than even many Americans, decided to capitalise on what he considered his special relationship with George W. and sign a free trade agreement with the US.

Howard had to suffer humiliation after humiliation as request after request to get some benefit for Australia was rejected out of hand; even his last desperate plea to increase meat export quotas by a beggarly 100,000 tonnes was turned down by Bush.

In the financial year 2010-11, imports from the US to Australia totalled $26 billion while Australian exports to the US were $9 billion. That's free trade for you.

No Australia politician will stand up to the Americans and fight for Australian interests. When Gough Whitlam hinted that Australia would not renew the lease on the Pine Gap research (snooping) centre, we all know what happened.

When the Americans tried to ram the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement down the throats of the EU, it didn't work. There were protests by the people and now it is highly unlikely that the treaty will be signed by Europe.

But what about those famously militant Australians? Surely, they would have protested too? As it turns out, Australia and Canada meekly signed the ACTA. It appears that the Australians were too busy going to the footy, the pokies or just getting drunk to even stage a symbolic protest.

The level of apathy that prevails in Australia - which is often mistakenly passed off as being laid-back - means that laws which curtail freedoms will continue to be put in place one after the other. There is no-one to blame except ourselves.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.