Aussie AG denies e-mail penalty, sort of

The old non-denial denial

Update We've been buried in reader responses, most originating in Australia, pointing us to a statement in clear contradiction of a Sunday Telegraph story indicating that Australia's new copyright regulations could result in penalties for forwarding an e-mail memo, which we picked up here.

"Contrary to alarmist media reports, sharing e-mail is not banned by law," Australian Attorney General Daryl Williams says in a press release issued Monday.

"Amendments to the Copyright Act that came into effect today do not outlaw the practice of forwarding personal e-mails to other people. That would be ridiculous," he observes.

A court would need to find that the contents of the e-mail were an "original literary work", he adds.

But while he decries media sensationalism firmly enough, he doesn't quite deny the possibility that forwarding e-mail can land one in hot water with the same finality.

"For example, if the e-mail was simply a joke that everyone had been re-hashing for years, it is doubtful it would have the necessary originality to be protected by copyright. Similarly, a casual exchange of personal information or office gossip would probably not be original enough to have copyright in it." (our emphasis)

That's not quite the same as saying that some doofus original limerick or ode to precious bodily fluids as in the case of the now famous, possibly bogus, Claire Swire e-mail could not be disputed in court.

One reader scolded us for repeating what we'd read in the papers. "The Sunday Telegraph. A source for NEWS? Are you serious?!" they ask.

Well, we thought we were.... ®

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