25 June 2007

monday monday

Well in an up and down day the arrival of this was probably a highlight. It's just a magnificent little piece of work, extremely detailed for a 1/43 scale model.

I bet that like many other blokes of my vintage, I wish I hadn't given away my toy cars from boyhood. I can remember most of them: a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, a Bentley S2 drophead coupe, a Fiat 2300, a Jag Mk2, a Chevy Bel-Air, a Morris Mini that I implored my uncle to buy to put on his desk (as he was at that time a purveyor of Minis). He acquiesced to the purchase (one shilling from me, six and sixpence from him) but I couldn't budge him from the view that I wanted it for myself. As he was older and a far better arguer than a 10-year-old, I lost the argument and got the model.

In today's Crikey, front-line IP lawyer and blogger Kim Weatherall had this piece:

4. Warning to Aussie software pirates: Be afraid, be very afraid
By Kimberlee Weatherall, intellectual property expert, blogger and Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland

In February, an Australian resident, Hew Griffiths, was extradited to face a US criminal court on charges of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringements, and criminal copyright infringement. He pleaded guilty, and last Friday he was sentenced to more than four years in prison. Because he has already spent three years in an Australian jail, he will have to serve 15 months in the US.
Griffiths was extradited and has been convicted for his involvement in ‘warez trading’: he was a leader of the DrinkOrDie software piracy group, who deliberately and consciously set up an international computer network which operated, in an
organised way, to crack technical protections on software and distribute the
uncracked version.

It’s important to get a few misconceptions out of the way. Griffiths is not copyright’s version of David Hicks. Hicks was held without charge for years in the US; Griffiths was held only after a US grand jury indicted him. Hicks was charged under laws which applied criminal penalties retrospectively to acts done before the law was passed. Griffiths was convicted for acts which were crimes under Australian law at the time he did them.

It is unlikely Hicks was thinking about possible conviction by a US court when he acted in Afghanistan; Griffiths flouted Australian and US copyright law, and boasted he would not be caught. If the US were going to choose a case for a copyright-based extradition, they certainly chose someone who is not a particularly sympathetic character.

But we should be shocked, and worried, by what has happened to Griffiths. Why? Because before he was extradited, Griffiths had never set foot in the United States. It is a worry that we have, without any apparent demur on the part of Australian authorities, the exercise of US jurisdiction. It means that Australian authorities will, it seems, happily allow US law to be applied to acts done in Australia. Why?

There is no reason why Griffiths could not have been charged, and tried, in an Australian court. There were many other co-conspirators, but none have been extradited to the US. Several were charged, and convicted, under UK law by UK courts. Why is Griffiths being treated differently? Because Griffiths was the
leader? All the more reason to try him here.

The Australian Government might respond that in the case of ‘transnational’ crimes, drastic action like extradition is necessary. But this is copyright, not international
terrorism or child p-rn-graphy we are talking about. It is an economic crime.
Extradition does not seem appropriate or proportionate. We should be worried that such extraditions might become more common. If they do, Australians will have to consider, in their online activities, extradition to the US as a possible risk. So much for Australian sovereignty.

Indeed. And even more so if the US is successful in getting this bloke back under US military sovereignty. Then we'll really know that we're the 52nd - or whatever it is - state.

BTW, I keep forgetting to give readers an update on the various extra-curricular endeavours we've started at Chateau VVB. First, the personal journey: the consultants have now confirmed what I told them when I started. But to be fair, we've been through a fair bit of introspection and analysis to get to this point and have learnt a few useful things for the future. (Geez I love being Delphic).

Second, we haven't scooped up any poo and put it in the post.

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