Montar car mount review

I don’t normally post product reviews here, but WinnerGear offered me a free car mount to review. I have to say, it’s the best car mount I’ve used. I’ve only used a couple, but the ones I have used have tended to fall off pretty quick.

I’ve been using this one for the last few months, and it works really well. It stuck perfectly to both my dash and my windscreen no problems. It puts up with me mashing my phone / gps in and out regularly. I’ve also repositioned it a couple of times – no loss in suction. Overall, if you’re looking for a car mount thingy, I can recommend this one.

Montar Car mount on Amazon

Montar car mount

Jean Burgess leads the DMRC

QUT launches new Digital Media Research Centre

Exciting news! I am absolutely delighted to announce the launch of our new Digital Media Research Centre. I’m privileged to be a Chief Investigator along with a great group of leading media scholars. I’ll be leading a program of research on the regulation and governance of networked society.

In Brian McNair’s words:

Queensland University of Technology announces the launch of a Digital Media Research Centre, dedicated to studying the implications of digital transition across a wide spectrum of industries and sectors, from journalism and entertainment to government. Its remit will extend from news and politics to crisis management, mobile dating apps and the challenges facing the Australian film and TV industry in a digital environment. Its aim will be to produce new, useful knowledge about the digital media that both informs and guides policy makers, publics and stakeholders in the creative and culture industries as they negotiate this complex, turbulent environment.

If you like, you can read the full media release here.

QUT IP submission on copyright infringement website blocking Bill

Here is our submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s review of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015.

We argue that safeguards are necessary to ensure human rights are adequately protected. All systems of blocking access to online content necessarily raise difficult and problematic issues of infringement of freedom of speech and access to information. Given the importance of access to information across the breadth of modern life, great care must be taken to ensure that any measures designed to protect copyright by blocking access to online locations are proportionate. Any measures to block access to online content must be carefully tailored to avoid serious and disproportionate impact on human rights.

This means first that the measures must be effective and adapted to achieve a legitimate purpose. The experience of foreign jurisdictions suggests that this legislation is unlikely to be effective. Unless and until there is clear evidence that the proposed scheme is likely to increase effective returns to Australian creators, this legislation should not be introduced.

Second, the principle of proportionality requires ensuring that the proposed legislation does not unnecessarily burden legitimate speech or access to information. As currently worded, the draft legislation may result in online locations being blocked even though they would, if operated in Australia, not contravene Australian law. This is unacceptable, and if introduced, the law should be drafted so that it is clearly limited only to foreign locations where there is clear and compelling evidence that the location would authorise copyright infringement if it were in Australia.

Third, proportionality requires that measures are reasonable and strike an appropriate balance between competing interests. This draft legislation provides few safeguards for the public interest or the interests of private actors who would access legitimate information. New safeguards should be introduced to ensure that the public interest is well represented at both the stage of the primary application and at any applications to rescind or vary injunctions.

We recommend that:

  • The legislation not be introduced unless and until there is compelling evidence that it will have a real and significant positive impact on the effective incomes of Australian creators.

  • The ‘facilitates an infringement’ test in s 115A(1)(b) should be replaced with ‘authorises infringement’.

  • The ‘primary purpose’ test in s 115A(1)(c) should be replaced with: “the online location has no substantial non-infringing uses”.

  • An explicit role for public interest groups as amici curiae should be introduced.

  • Costs of successful applications should be borne by applicants.

  • Injunctions should be valid only for renewable two year terms.

  • Section 115A(5) should be clarified, and cl (b) and (c) be removed.

  • The effectiveness of the scheme should be evaluated in two years.

Read the full submission here.

QUT Submission to Australian copyright notice scheme

We have just lodged our submission to the Communications Alliance draft industry code to introduce a copyright notice scheme.

In making this submission, we suggest that Australia learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, and avoid some of the mistakes that have been made. In particular, this involves:

  • Ensuring that adequate information is available to evaluate the success of the scheme
  • Ensuring that notices sent to consumers provide full and accurate information that helps them understand their rights and options

  • Limiting the potential abuse of the system, and particularly attempts to intimidate consumers into paying unfair penalties through ‘speculative invoicing’

  • Avoiding the potential for actual or perceived bias in the scheme’s oversight body

You can view the submission here.
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Can you copyright a feeling? Blurred Lines may be the biggest music copyright case of 2015

By Nicolas Suzor, Queensland University of Technology and Kylie Pappalardo, Queensland University of Technology

The year is still young, but this week a judgement was handed down in what may well be the biggest music case of 2015.

Marvin Gaye’s children have won a copyright law suit against Robin Thicke (no stranger to controversy) and Pharrell Williams for the song Blurred Lines. The 2013 hit was found to have infringed Gaye’s musical copyright in Got To Give It Up. A jury in the US awarded damages of nearly US$7.4 million – more than half of the song’s US$16.6 million takings to date.

What exactly was copied?

Strangely, this case wasn’t about comparing the two recordings. It was actually much more confusing than that. Listening to the recordings, the similarities are clear:

Listen for yourself – how similar are the two songs?

But this case wasn’t about copying of the recorded version, but the sheet music.

Importantly, Blurred Lines doesn’t copy the lyrics or the lead melody. Williams admits it has the same “feel”, but claims he was just “channeling that feeling, that late-70s feeling”.

Importantly, you can’t copyright the feel of a song.

The Judge in this case ordered a comparison of only the copyrightable parts of Gaye’s song – and when you listen to that, the two songs start to sound very different:

Then the court also heard a mash-up of Gaye’s music with Williams’s and Thicke’s lyrics on top:

This mashup seems to suggest that the lyrics fit quite well over Gaye’s song, but critics note that this happens quite often – as this clip from Australian comedy group the Axis of Awesome shows. The website Sounds Just Like has lots more examples if you have a few hours to kill.

Copyright infringement, or just a creative homage?

Thicke has admitted that he was influenced by Gaye’s song and wanted to make something with the same feel; but many people think that shouldn’t be enough to infringe copyright.

We’ve seen similar cases in recent years – in 2014, Led Zeppelin faced allegations that the iconic guitar riff in Stairway to Heaven was appropriated from a song by rock band, Spirit. In 2010, Australian band Men at Work were found to have infringed copyright in their hit Down Under, because the flute riff was copied from the 1934 folk song, Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

In some ways, it’s easier to feel angry about these cases – they’re iconic songs that have become part of our cultural landscape; they only took small parts of the original songs; and the similarities were not discovered – or at least litigated – for many years: after 43 years in Led Zeppelin’s case and more than 20 years for Men at Work.

Protecting creativity, or credit-where-credit’s due?

This case highlights a common confusion in what copyright law is about. Contrary to what we often think, copyright isn’t about “credit where credit’s due”. It’s about encouraging people to make and produce new works.

If copyright is about incentives for creativity, this decision makes no sense. No amount of money now will encourage Marvin Gaye to make more music. What this case does do, though, is discourage future artists from revealing their influences and reworking our culture.

Pharrell Williams performs in The Netherlands in 2014.
EPA/Paul Bergen

Blurred Lines sure sounds like Got to Give It Up, but it doesn’t harm the market for the original. Nobody is going to be fooled into settling for Robin Thicke when they’re looking for Marvin Gaye.

Somewhere along the line, copyright has been twisted from its original purpose. Copyright only used to last 14 years. It now lasts for a whole 70 years after the original author dies.

This is well after the commercial life of most works. Got to Give It Up was at its commercial peak around 1977, when it topped the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. The copyright in the song, though, will last another 40 years.

The extraordinary length of copyright means that a huge amount of the material that influences us to create something new is locked away. When copyright does this, it stops being an incentive, and it becomes a tax on creativity.

Where copyright went wrong

The two songs are clearly similar – but they are also entirely different creative works. And that should count for something.

Marvin Gaye.
Wikimedia Commons

In the Down Under case, it was not enough that Men at Work’s song is almost completely different to the Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree folk song. It was not enough that Men at Work had changed the musical context significantly, combining elements of rock, ska and reggae.

Copyright law focuses only on similarities when assessing infringement. This ignores the way that all creativity builds upon the past.

Sometimes, copyright law is able to distinguish between copying that takes the “idea” or “feel” of something and copying that is actually harmful. Other times, that distinction is more difficult. Thicke and Williams, by some accounts, have been unlucky – caught in the cogs of a legal regime that values earlier creativity over newer creativity, and where protection is too long.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Forced negotiations and industry codes won’t stop illegal downloads

Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced yesterday that they expect internet service providers (ISPs) to work with copyright owners to help police infringement.

ISPs will have to agree to a new industry code that passes on warning notices to their customers when copyright owners make allegations of infringement against them. They will also have to start handing over the personal details of subscribers who have several allegations against their name.

The government also plans to introduce an obligation for ISPs to block access to file sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay.

These announcements are better than the government’s last attempt to force ISPs to negotiate, which would have made a mess out of copyright law for everyone. But there are still real problems, and the measures will probably increase the cost of internet access for little, if any, benefit.

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Should social network platforms enforce human rights? IGF 2014 Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility

At the 2014 Internet Governance Forum, the Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility met to discuss the role of private intermediaries in enforcing social norms and law.

One of the most interesting points made by Rebecca McKinnon was that corporations have some (limited) responsibility to protect human rights (see further UN, ‘The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights’ (2012)).

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights explain that

The responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate. It exists independently of States’ abilities and/or willingness to fulfil their own human rights obligations, and does not diminish those obligations. And it exists over and above compliance with national laws and regulations protecting human rights.
Addressing adverse human rights impacts requires taking adequate measures for their prevention, mitigation and, where appropriate, remediation.

The obligation is pretty light, but it provides an interesting way to look at many current regulatory questions. Whether we’re talking about the ‘Right to be Forgotten‘ or responses to hate speech or revenge porn, it becomes very interesting to decouple the obligations of platforms from their potential liability.

The Dynamic Coalition is trying to work through some of these issues. The Coalition’s first steps will be to focus on the compatibility of platform Terms of Service with human rights standards, and evaluate the processes of due diligence that have emerged for enforcing those standards. The group expects to provide a preliminary report by the end of the year – you can get involved by joining the mailing list.

You can watch a video archive of the event below – or see the transcript here.

The game of clones and the Australia tax: divergent views about copyright business models and the willingness of Australian consumers to infringe

In a forthcoming issue of the UNSW Law Journal, Paula Dootson and I write about the effect of restrictive copyright licensing practices on the willingness of consumers to infringe copyright. This builds on Paula’s PhD work, and we present qualitative evidence to support the common intuition that the lack of access to legitimate content distribution channels increases the willingness of consumers to infringe copyright. But surpisingly, consumers do want to pay for access at a fair price if they can, and they’ll go to significant lengths to do it (like setting up a VPN to access netflix or itunes from another region).

We’ve made a pre-publication draft of the article available.
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Intermediary liability: two submissions to AGD Online Copyright Infringement consultation

We’ve just lodged two submissions to the Attorney-General’s Department consultation on Online Copyright Infringement.

The first submission is from the QUT IP & Innovation Law research group. This submission gives a good overview of a few important points:

  • Copyright infringement in Australia at the moment should be thought of as predominantly a market problem, and we should look for market solutions.

  • Graduated response schemes are unlikely to be effective, but they pose serious risks for due process and the rule of law.

  • The proposed changes would create serious uncertainty in authorisation liability, while at the same time probably won’t actually achieve the Government’s goal.

  • There’s no evidence that website blocking is likely to be effective.

The second submission is on behalf of Creative Commons Australia and the Organization for Transformative Works. This one focuses on the proposal’s likely chilling effects on free expression and the flow of knowledge and culture.

I should also say how incredibly proud I am of QUT IP law students in putting the first submission together. They worked really hard over the short review period and produced a really good piece of work.

Brandis’ leaked anti-piracy proposal is unrealistic

Originally posted on The Conversation by Nicolas Suzor and Alex Button-Sloan.

The Australian Government has proposed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should monitor and punish Australians who download and infringe copyright.

In a discussion paper circulated by Attorney-General George Brandis, and leaked by Crikey last Friday, the government proposes a sweeping change to Australian copyright law that would force ISPs to take steps to prevent Australians from infringing copyright.

What these steps might be is very vague. They could include blocking peer-to-peer traffic, slowing down internet connections, passing on warnings from industry groups, and handing over subscriber details to copyright owners.

The move comes in response to claims that Australians are among the biggest downloaders of films and television series. Under intense pressure from Hollywood and Foxtel, the government wants to do something to combat copyright infringement.
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