Monthly Archives: June 2009


It’s often true that court reporting exaggerates sentences to make them sound ludicrous, and I have railed against that before. But this case a fortnight ago – held in a jurisdiction where juries get to award damages – is beyond ridiculous:

In a surprise decision, the jury imposed damages against Thomas-Rasset, who was originally accused of sharing more than 1,700 songs, at a whopping $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she was ultimately found guilty of illegally sharing.

I haven’t the words. What an affront to justice and common sense. $1.92 million for 24 songs? What was that based on – the amount the RIAA executives rip-off from artists and consumers each day?

Still, you’ve got to admire the work of the RIAA’s lawyers. You know, the sheer skill they must have employed – regardless of what it was used for. What unmitigated but spectacular bullshit they must have sold that jury. They may have been working for evil, but they clearly did it really, really well.

When it all it takes is to start a meme

That didn’t go very well.

He picked the wrong target!

Oh well, it was a two-pronged attack, he can go after the other one.

Nah, too late.

It’s too late?

Yeah, the moment’s been lost.

The moment’s been lost?

This is going to damage his leadership.

Why’s it going to damage his leadership?

It was a misjudgment.

Yeah, I gather it’s going to damage his leadership.

Actually, his position is becoming insupportable.

It is?

Yeah, his leadership is damaged, people are talking about whether the party’s going to have to replace him.

When would they do that?

A good question – when’s it going to happen?

Given that he’s on the way out.

Of course he’s on the way out, his leadership is permanently tarnished.

And I’ve heard people talking about how he might need to be replaced.

All the talk is distracting people away from the real issues.

Until he’s replaced, all this talk is just helping shield the Government from scrutiny. He’s becoming a liability.

Imagine having gone from such a minor mistake to needing to be replaced in a week!

Just goes to show what a poor leader he is.

* * * * *

Hello, this is Australia Poll. What are your feelings on the subject of Malcolm Turnbull?

Well I’ve been reading in the paper all week that that ute thing went very badly for him.

So on a scale of one to five, one being don’t approve, five being approve, how would you rate his performance?

He’s got everyone saying he’s got to go, so one I suppose.

* * * *

Do you think he can survive? After all, in the scheme of things, attacking the PM prematurely is hardly unexpected for an Opposition leader.

Not if these poll results are any guide – voters think he’s an idiot.

He’s got to go. Talk to you soon – I’ve got a column to write.

Pictures to look at before dinner

Moral test time. Would you dare to defend this barbarism in the flimsy guise of “brutally blowing the head off someone who smuggles heroin SAVES LIVES!11!”? Or “when they chose to carry a prohibited substance on their person, they should’ve expected some psychopath with a gun would fire it into their skull with such force that the entire top half disappears.”

If you said “yes”, you sicken me.

Meanwhile, if you have the stomach to click through to the images, how many bloodthirsty thugs with guns does China need just to slaughter a handful of prisoners?

How they justify the system

Horror weekend on the roads:

AS MOST Victorians woke to a bright, sunny winter’s morning, 11 families received heart-stopping phone calls that would change their lives forever.

Three collisions had taken six lives overnight. The dead were aged 15, 16, 18, 19, and one of them was in their 20s.

This is beyond tragic. What a horrible waste of human life. What awful, indescribable loss.

That’s no reason that the deaths can’t be ghoulishly used to justify more revenue-raising tougher road laws, though. The deputy police commissioner is already getting started:

Speed may have been involved, he said.

As a community, we know and expect what’s coming next. The important thing is to continue to make the traffic laws ever more unreasonable. If teenagers have died, then clearly speed limits and penalties for speeding are still far too low. How about 40kph on freeways, 20kph on suburban roads, and $10,000 fines for anyone who exceeds them?

We will know we’ve got the balance right when road deaths are impossible.*

*When no-one drives because it’s easier just to walk.

Nothing better I could have done with that time

I’m pretty terrible at anniversaries, and forgot to note that Friday was five years since this blog started (as Melbourne Lefty).


I didn’t even get it a present. I am the worst blogger ever.

Conroy does it again

Long-time readers of this site will be aware of my antipathy over what Ebay has become, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to read about Senator Conroy’s plan to block it from Australians:

The Federal Government has now set its sights on gamers, promising to use its internet censorship regime to block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds.

…a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

Isn’t that wonderful? I’m sure Australians will be more than happy to lose access to eBay, Amazon, and any other overseas commerce sites that won’t be bothered reorganising themselves just to pander to the pitifully small Australian market.

Good luck with that, Stephen.

Oh, you didn’t know him either

Michael Jackson, one of the world’s most prominent producers of weird and freaky shit, died this morning of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was fifty years old.

Although he first rose to fame for his musical talent – first as a child, as one of the Jackson 5, and then writing and performing timeless hits like Billie Jean, Thriller, and Stop Pressuring Me About The Creepy Stuff I Keep Doing – it was his bizarre and inexplicable antics in later years that really struck a chord with the public and made him a star.

You don’t have an enormous painting of you crowning and knighting yourself in your house?

“You could always rely on Michael to come up with something unexpected and disturbing,” friend and producer Quincy Jones told the LA Times.

“Whether it was sleepovers with other people’s children, tearing his face apart with horrendous plastic surgery, clearly fake marriages, naming his two sons “Prince”, dangling one of them out of a window, commissioning unbelievably kitsch works of “art” – Michael Jackson was undoubtedly the King Of Batshit Insane. I will miss him terribly, as will everyone else who made a great deal of money off him.”

The world’s tabloid editors are today in mourning.

Could copyright really be extended so ludicrously far?

There’s no guarantee that the leeches who are suing the band Men At Work for royalties over the part of their 1981 hit Down Under that references the 1934 children’s ditty “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” will have any success at all – but that they even think it’s arguable is disturbing in and of itself. What is the purpose of music copyright? It’s a monopoly granted by the government purely to encourage the creation and recording of musical works. Is the prospect of a reference to your song being included in a pop hit 48 years later really a disincentive to create – or is it actually something most artists would quite like to see? I suspect Ms Sinclair, if she was still alive, would’ve been chuffed to hear her work heard around the world that way.


If this interpretation of the Copyright Act 1968 were accepted, the result would simply be that modern bands would be warned off referencing parts of Australian culture, for fear of being sued. I’ve always thought it was a nice homage to the Kookaburra song that Men at Work included; but it wasn’t vital. If anyone had thought it problemmatic – and, note, it’s taken this “Larrikin” mob more than TWENTY FIVE YEARS to sue over it – then they’d simply never have included it.

Who gains from that? What on Earth is the point of copyright laws that could be interpreted so broadly, and over such an unnecessarily long period?

The Act should make such a suit impossible – both on the grounds of time (it’s seventy five years since the song was published!) and on the grounds of fair use (a short reference is not a reproduction of a song). You know why it doesn’t.

Homophobes oppressed by majority

In the homophobes’ continuing efforts to protect themselves from the horror of seeing gay people get married, they used to at least be able to pretend that they had popular support for their bigotry. There used to actually be some kind of debate between the principle of majority rules and protecting the basic human rights of minorities.

But even that has now been taken away from them:

In 31 of the 32 demographic cohorts measured, a majority of Australians support same sex marriage with only the over 50’s being the odd cohort out, where in that unique case the against held a plurality lead of 49 to 45.


I mean, we always knew that, barring a theocratic revolution, they were going to lose in the long-run, and that their efforts to keep this generation of gay people down were even pettier and more spiteful given that, deep down, they knew it. But who dared to predict that they’d lose popular support so quickly?

How are they going to justify governments denying gay people equal rights now? And how are our mainstream politicians going to justify not voting for the Greens’ Equal Marriage Bill?

UPDATE: Really, where does this leave the bigots? The pro-equality side has never relied on populism: we’ve simply argued the basic position that governments should not discriminate against people on the grounds of gender unless there’s a very, very good reason – and no such reason appears to have been found by the homophobes.

But they’ve relied on “we’re in the majority” quite heavily. With that gone, what are they left with? Their stupid “definition of marriage” argument, which would disappear the moment the change was legislated? Their frequently-contradicted every time a post-menopausal woman is married “marriage is only for couples who can procreate” line? Their scary if-taken-seriously “parliaments should enact the provisions of Leviticus” demand?

They’ve got nothing – except organised fundamentalists who are prepared to fight very, very dirty.

UPDATE #2: There will be a National Day Of Action on 1st August. Please do what you can. (Via Ben in the comments.)

Don’t worry; changes will be minimal

At first I was a little worried that replacing Connex and Yarra Trams might have the effect of prompting much-needed reform of the State’s badly-run, under-resourced public transport system. And then I remembered that Lynne “I don’t want to run a train system” Kosky is still in charge, and the government of which she’s a part still has no intention of allocating sufficient resources to the network to fix it, and those fears dissipated.

One of those awful things Kosky just wishes people would stop talking to her about.

Finally, someone else to divert blame away from a Minister who, frankly, has better things to worry about than the content of her portfolio. Three cheers for Patsy #2!

UPDATE: Lynne hits back:

“The Opposition have no policies on improving public transport,” Ms Kosky said.

“They carp and whinge and moan while we are getting on with the job of building new tracks, ordering more trains and trams through the $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan.”

New tracks? What, that minor line extension that’s years late? Where are the new lines to major population centres, or the new trains? And in what parallel universe is saying you’re better than the Liberals really all that much consolation to Melbourne’s long-suffering commuters?

God she’s awesome.