Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recent Developments

Two things have occurred this week that are worth a brief mention.

The first is a campaign by Get Up to challenge donations to political parties. Urging Australians to sign a petition to stop corporate and third party political donations as well as cap the amount of money individuals donate to campaigns their email states:

Politicians are elected to work for their employers - the Australian people. But someone else is writing their cheques: to the tune of millions of dollars. Will you join us in calling for an end to corporate and third-party political donations?

Developers given unfettered access to public land; mining companies' rights trumping traditional owners'; childcare services next to poker machines - we may get to vote every few years, but can we match the influence of large corporate donors?

Who's going to change it? The political parties addicted to big dollar corporate sponsorship? This change has to come from those who have a legitimate say over how the country is run: the Australian people. And we need to seize this rare opportunity, while the issue is in the headlines.

I have written previously about Public Choice Theory and how powerful corporate actors in essence dictate policy with respect to intellectual property law here. I refer to the disablement of public governance structures through political campaigns and financial pressure as in effect creating conditions of Private Governance which is perpetuated throughout the world through international treaties and free trade agreements.

Those interested in reading more about the campaign and signing the petition should visit:

The second development worth mentioning is the handing down of a preliminary decision in the case of Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd v EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited [2009] FCA 799. This case concerns allegations of copyright infringement against EMI and the composers of the famous Australian song ‘Down Under’ who are alleged to have used a substantial portion of the song ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’. While Jacobson J does not consider the substantive copyright argument in the preliminary decision, he has determined that copyright does vest with Larrikin Music Publishing and that the copyright claim can proceed.

Plagiarism was initially raised as an issue on the popular Australian music quiz show Spicks and Specks two years ago. If copyright infringement is established the award of damages is likely to be very high given the popularity of the ‘Down Under’ song.

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