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Australia outlaws e-mail forwarding

Way over the top down under

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Outrageously strict Internet copyright laws which have just gone into effect throughout Australia make it illegal to forward an e-mail memo without the author's permission, and could result in fines of $60,000 or five years in the slam, according to a story by the Aussie Sunday Telegraph.

"It's quite possible that the forwarding of an e-mail could be a technical infringement of copyright," an unnamed legal advisor to Oz Attorney General Daryl Williams told the paper.

"E-mailing is a 'communication' under the Digital Agenda Act, and so is putting something up on a Web site," the source added.

This could rank as the world's most copyright-friendly and common-sense-hostile piece of legislation yet devised.

And that's not all: Aussies recently revealed a widespread national neurosis by entertaining, in the state of South Australia, an Internet censorship bill which would criminalize the posting any material which cops deem offensive to children - that's anything, anywhere.

The bill would require Net content to be child-friendly according to the country's movie certification scheme; but, in a twist straight out of Kafka, it's not possible for Webmasters to get their sites reviewed by the relevant authority before they get busted.

Which is to say nothing of the lunacy of reducing on-line discourse and dialogue to infant babble. Clearly, the Puritanical delight in censoring impure thoughts and regulating the pleasure of others has once again got out of control down under.

Over half a century ago the English writer Norman Douglas had occasion to observe that "all mankind is at the mercy of a handful of neurotics".

So much for progress. ®

Story Update

Aussie AG denies e-mail penalty, sort of

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