More free trade agreement dramas. Apparently, the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement requires overturning the iiTrial in order to be implemented! Joy!

This tweet was concerning enough as it is, so I dug into the “National Interest Assessment” itself and found the gem on point 17:

Consistent with Australia’s existing obligations in the Australia-US and Australia-Singapore FTAs, and to fully implement its obligations under KAFTA, the Copyright Act 1968 will require amendment in due course to provide a legal incentive for online service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement due to the High Court’s decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd, which found that ISPs are not liable for authorising the infringements of subscribers.

I’ve shot off FOI requests to AGD, DFAT and IP Australia. There’s a JSCOT sitting on Monday, so hopefully someone will grill them on this absolute travesty.

This explains at least partially why Senator Brandis is so interested in implementing a graduated response and Internet censorship regime in Australia. The mess just keeps getting worse. Let’s not forget the Productivity Commission very explicitly stated that IP changes should not be considered in FTAs without proper analysis of the consequences.

If this Government can’t even handle something as straight-forward as a bilateral free trade agreement without it requiring major changes to our Copyright Act, how can we trust a single word they say about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement not requiring changes to our legislation?

We can’t.

Hey! Been a while since I last made a blog post. A lot has been happening. Quit my job, went back to full time studies for a bit, focused hard on getting Pirate Party stuff happening, and I’ve thrown around a couple more freedom of information requests recently.

However, recently, regional pricing got my goat. I’m a big fan of the Witcher series of games. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a mature RPG series based on a series of Polish novels by an author called Andrzej Sapkowski.

Well, the creators of the Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED, also own a pretty good game distribution website called Gog, which distributes games DRM-free. Unfortunately, CD Projekt RED have decided to slap on a pretty awful regional pricing.

For people in the US, they will pay $60 USD. We in Australia however will pay a lovely $90 AUD! Go regional pricing, go! They will however offer about $20 AUD worth of coupons for other old games, but honestly, it’s not good enough.

So like all good angry little digital activists should do, I sent them a feedback message. I can’t republish it exactly because I sent it using a web form, and their email reply didn’t include it.

The gist of it was that I said I was “disgusted” in this complete ripoff for a game that will in all likelihood be censored by our puritan government anyway and pointed out that DRM-free isn’t everything, and that blaming regional pricing agreements they chose to sign is a cop-out.

Today, I got a gem of a response (a piece of quartz as far as gems go):

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Fucking fuck fuck fuuuuck. I sat there for about 5 minutes just reading it. Was the very first sentence the cop-out I thought it was? What school of customer service even is this? I expected a canned response, but this was a new level of goop. It even told me I should be nicer to a corporation. lol!

Once I had stopped rage laughing, I slapped out a response that even I’m surprised came from my fingers:

So there you have it. Don’t take ripoffs lying down. Complain about it, talk about it, publish blog posts about it. Ensure this discussion doesn’t go away until this archaic, shitful business model does.

Fuck.

Yesterday, DFAT requested a 30 day extension on a freedom of information request that requests access to documents regarding the ALRC’s copyright review in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

I declined, as the request is straight forward, and based on the money they requested I pay, they estimate it will take 9 hours to process.

Today, I received an email from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, informing me they have granted DFAT the 30 day extension:

Recently, there have been rumblings about the Attorney-General’s Department no longer publishing documents for freedom of information requests on their disclosure log as was previous practice. This is problematic, as a trend against transparency is not something we want to see from the AGD when it’s already so difficult to get facts out of government departments.

One of the rumblings going around was that it was due to accessibility reasons. This sounds like complete bullshit to me, given I’ve never seen an FOI request that a screen reader liked, so this is almost certainly not the case.

This lack of transparency spurned me into doing a project I’ve been meaning to do for a while. At this stage it’s called ‘foitorrent’, a system that scrapes all available documents from disclosure logs, and converts them into a torrent. This means that even if the original document is removed from the disclosure log, which does happen from time to time, it will still exist in the swarm while there are still seeders. A great way to archive government information.

This post was also published in the Guardian. This is the unedited version.

Only in Australia could the phrase “public briefing” mean that the meeting will be held behind closed doors, where journalists are not welcome.

Only yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) rescinded the invitations of several journalists to attend a public briefing regarding a multilateral trade agreement under negotiation called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The TPP is an extensive agreement that covers typical topics such as goods and services, but also contains chapters on labour laws, intellectual property, the environment and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. This agreement is currently being negotiated completely opaquely between the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. DFAT claims that it will be finished negotiating by the end of the year.