In an entry last month, I made mention of imminent changes to copyright laws doing their rounds through federal parliament in Australia.

In the last few weeks, they have been causing a stir, according to an article in the IT section of The Australian on November 2, with the Internet Industry Association making claims that all sorts of activities we now enjoy will become illegal, and copyright lawyers that The Australian chose to speak to saying that many of these are already illegal under current law.

One thing that seemed to be agreed on however, is the new laws don’t go far enough to allow users to format-shift their CD tracks to MP3 players. From a legal standpoint, syncing your Pod with your PC creates an extra copy, infringing copyright law.

So, creating extra copies for personal use of CDs you bought, recording musicians at a concert you paid to attend – all these would (continue to) be illegal, which is disappointing. Words from John Perry Barlow (of the Grateful Dead fame) spring to mind (in an article “Selling Wine without Bottles“)- saying he didn’t mind fans bringing tape recorders to concerts. They would take home a (low-quality) recording of the event, but they will have paid for the experience of attending the concert. The atmosphere of the concert cannot be recreated simply by replaying a sound or video recording of the event. Being the only real-time source of your intellectual property is where the value lies, according to Barlow.

Perhaps the scarier thing for users is that the new laws apparently allow you to be fined even if you weren’t aware you were breaking the law…