Aussie gov't report on DRM: Don't let it override public rights!

A special Australian committee on copyright and DRM has published its findings, and has recommended a drastic scaling-back of the protections given to DRM in most countries.

Australia was arm-twisted into accepting legal protection for DRM in its free trade agreement with the USA. The US version of this legal protection has been abused to stop people from making compatible software, backups, from time- and format-shifting, and allowing the enforcement of terms that are based on the idea of screwing you, not protecting copyright law as written.

The Aussies had a special, distinguished panel review the way that Australia should meet its obligations, and they've come back with a 186-page report full of recommendations for exceptions to the protections DRMs get. This is tantamount to a denunciation of the status quo in Europe, the USA and other places with DRM protection in place, a brave and thoroughgoing statement of the risks to the public interest that arise when you say to someone that it's illegal to break a lock, even if you've got a right to whatever it's protecting.

Among the recommendations are the right for Parliament to break DRM to get access to work, the right to break DRM for tinkerers, reverse engineers, backers-up, and getting rid of rootkits and other DRMs that are installed without your knowledge and permission.

It's a long doc, and I haven't time to get through it all, but I like what I see. Here's some analysis from Michael Geist:

There is lots more including exceptions for fair dealing, education, and libraries. Moreover, the committee made it clear that changes in the law that facilitate greater access (such as format shifting or backup rights) should be matched by a TPM exception. As Kim concludes:

"Two arms of government have now spoken: the High Court of Australia, and a committee of the Parliament. Both have affirmed that copyright law must be balanced; that anti-circumvention laws should be matched to copyright rights, rather than overly extending them . How will the executive react?"

Link, Link to Michael Geist's analysis of the report

(Thanks, Michael!)