August 7, 2006

EU Death Penalty Debate

Posted in criminal law, EU, law reform, murder at 6:24 am by thelawthoughts

Poland wants to reopen the death penalty debate within the EU.

The EU administration has firmly rejected the possibility any such discussion. Why are we still having this tired old debate? The death penalty does not satisfy the main aims of penal theory. It does not rehabilitate (for obvious reasons). It does not deter (or else the US wouldn’t need to keep injecting people with lethal drugs). Apart from anything else, it is so scary to live somewhere where the state has the ability, historically used arbitrarially, to kill people. How can a State tell people not to kill, when the same State kills people itself? It just doesn’t make sense.

I liked the caption – ‘Lech Kaczynski advocates traditional Catholic values’. The Beeb is not noted for its irony, so I can only guess it is unintended, but it is dripping with irony. When will some Catholics realise that ‘traditional values’ do not mean killing people? They mean ‘love thy neighbour’, ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Forgiveness is possibly the word I heard most in my childhood, yet people touting these ‘traditional values’ say in the same breath that State sponsored killing should be REintroduced.

Sometimes I wonder whether society has really progressed at all.

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June 23, 2006

Sign Me Up

Posted in law reform, politics, privacy at 3:30 am by thelawthoughts

The Do Not Call Register Bill 2006 has been passed. Send me the forms and I will sign them right now.

With previously unseen hilarity, Stephen Fielding has started to make automated phone calls, because politicians are exempt from the legislation. His opposition to such an exemption is well noted (here eg) and, although I can't find the link now, his phone call goes something like: 'This is Stephen Fielding and I am calling you because I can, because politicians are exempt from the new Do Not Call Register'.

June 16, 2006

EU Constitution

Posted in constitution, EU, globalisation, law reform, politics at 7:16 am by thelawthoughts

Why can't the EU leaders work it out?

Yes, it is probably a good idea for the EU to have a constitutional document. Yes, it is probably in the interests of the EU to centralise lots of Executive functions.

However, the lack of explanation being provided, and the seeming lack of connection between the Executive, the European Parliament, and people on the street means that a Constitution will never be passed as the current requirements stand.

In a union of 25 members, who ALL must pass the Constitution, whether in Parliament or by referendum, it takes a hell of a lot of explaining by political leaders before people on the street are willing to concede power over taxes, criminal law and defence policy to some ethereal EU Parliament and even worse, some back-room EU Commission.

The leaders might be all friends, but they need to remember, they are asking Poles to allow Germans to run their defence; ex-Soviet satellites to give up their new found independence and the UK to allow taxes to be raised elsewhere, when they won't even join the Euro.

It is just not going to happen. 

June 15, 2006

Senate Denies ACT Marriage Laws (updated)

Posted in discrimination, law reform, politics at 5:50 am by thelawthoughts

The Senate has disallowed the ACT's controversial same-sex marriage laws, despite Gary Humprhies crossing the floor.

This is, of course, the latest round in John Howard's attempt to stamp out 'genuine discrimination' against homosexuals.

UPDATED: Andrew Bartlett's speech on the motion here.

June 11, 2006

Citing Legal Blogs

Posted in blogging, judgments and transcripts, law reform at 7:23 am by thelawthoughts

Ian Best has put together an incredibly interesting list of citations in judgments to legal blogs.

Welcome to the future of legal scholarship. It is only a matter of time until judges here start to cite blogs by legal academics in Australia.

BBC gets into a Virtual World (updated)

Posted in contracts, copyright, internet law, law reform, virtual worlds at 4:36 am by thelawthoughts

I am going out on a limb and will say that the law of virtual worlds is going to be one of the most important legal discussions we, as a society, need to have.

The BBC has rented space on a virtual island, to broadcast a concert to people who are 'visiting' the virtual world. Here are some critical questions the law needs to answer:

Should virtual world creators be allowed to set the rules? Does this mean we have 'private States' rather than our current public government? In other words, should game or virtual world creators be allowed to 'legislate' so that their rules apply over 'real world' legislation? What happens when real money is exchanged for 'virtual goods'? Do real world contract laws apply? Who owns the copyright in the BBC's concert? Do property laws apply to virtual worlds? What happens if a gifted coder hacks the virtual world and destroys parts of it? Should owners of virtual property get compensation?

This is effectively a rambling list off the top of my head. There are even more important issues to discuss than these and it is a fascinating development.

UPDATED: To follow this up, I found an interesting piece by the Counterfeit Chic on counterfeiting in virtual worlds. See? I told you this was important!

Fair Use Copyright Review

Posted in copyright, fair use, law reform at 4:00 am by thelawthoughts

Kim Weatherall provides an in-depth commentary on the Fair Use review just held in Australia.

They are getting there, although I always doubt the ability of Parliament to keep up with technology as the Attorney General says it should. Why not draft the legislation to allow the US case-by-case assessment of whether the use is fair use? My impression of the Copyright Act provisions were that they were so narrow as to be almost non-existent.

My biggest gripe is that, although it is now legal to tape your favourite show and watch it later, if you watch it more than once, watch out.

Why would a review which was designed to weed out the ridiculous time- and format- shifting anomalies in the current Act leave oddities like this in there by choice?