More evil on the Free Trade front: Similar to the Sonny Bono Act here, Disney et al. have convinced Australia as part of its free trade agreement with the USA to extend its copyright term for all works (domestic or foreign) by 20 years, including giving protection back to works already in the public domain.
In other words, even works that have been free and available to the public for years will now locked back up again under copyright:
"The outcome is bad for libraries," said Colette Ormonde, copyright adviser for the Australian Library and Information Association. "It is bad for students. It is bad for researchers. It is bad for all information users."
"People who have been using information that is in the public domain will suddenly have to pay for it."
Not only that, but the new law will create all kinds of uncertainty for those works that are no longer commercially available or have no clear copyright owner. In the public domain, users never had to worry about permissions. Now, the threat of lawsuits by revived copyright owners will have a chilling effect on use of previously available works:
[Australian National University law lecturer Matthew Rimmer] said two decades of culture, which would previously have been freely used, quoted and republished, would revert to corporate control.
"This is literally a Mickey Mouse cultural shift," Dr Rimmer said. "The US extended their copyright terms recently after intense lobbying by a group of powerful corporate copyright holders, most notably Walt Disney, which faced the expiry of its copyright on Mickey Mouse and other famous cartoon characters."
Interesting, the Australia Trade Rep., Mark Vaile, didn't even try to hide his country's capitulation to U.S. copyright interests:
"Our position was that we did not think we needed to go the extra 20 years . . . but in the context of the overall agreement we were happy to," the [Vaile] spokesman said.
And a final sad note:
Dr. Rimmer described the changes as a victory for corporate America over Australia's public interest, and contradicted the Intellectual Property Review Committee's recent finding there was no evidence to support a copyright extension.
He said Project Guttenberg Australia, an online respository of public domain works, was likely to be among the first to suffer.