Anti-mining website shut down by mining lobby complaints
Monday March 05th 2007, 1:04 pm

image: Rising Tide
image: Rising Tide Australia

Rising Tide is a Newcastle based public interest group committed to informing the public about the real costs of coal in terms of carbon emissions and global warming.

Rising Tide spoofed the NSW Minerals Council website at http://www.nswmining.com.au/ with their own site at http://www.miningnsw.com.au/.

Rising Tide initially used edited screengrabs of the mining lobby’s website for their spoof – straight bit of culture jam, much as you often see here on mgk. The NSW Minerals Council complained to Rising Tide’s host about ‘copyright violations,’ and their host turned off Rising Tide’s jam site. Rising Tide rebuilt the site using their own artwork and were pulled off by their host yet again on complaints from the mining lobby. Rising Tide lodged a counterclaim; their site is back online via a host in Germany pending a result of the ‘investigation.’

Australia does not have adequate ‘fair use’ exemptions in copyright law nor has a Bill of Rights protecting freedom of speech, limiting civil lawsuits alleging a private citizen or corporation has violated the civil rights of a protester or satirist. Australia neither has any laws prohibiting SLAPP lawsuits, like the McLibel case. Anyone who hosts political satire, critique, commentary or even organises a boycott by way of an Australian based website, beware. Your site could go *poof* really rather easily at no small cost, even if that’s the time required to repost the site on a new hosting service.

While one doesn’t get a grant of American constitutional free speech rights just because their website is hosted in the USA, nor are US webhosts obligated to protect constitutional free speech rights, reputable American webhosts (and there’s quite a few who ain’t… bigger hosts are often better on this issue) are on balance much more resistant to content complaints, particularly the frivolous, politically motivated and vindictive varieties.

However, this can go to the extreme of total disclaiming of responsibility for user-generated content, as in the case of Google/Blogger protecting false and specifically defamatory material posted by neo-nazis and blogs maintained by paedophilia advocates. Google will NOT remove user generated content, despite the terms of their TOS, unless ordered to do so by a court which has legal jurisdiction over Google Inc.

Until Australia becomes a republic with a constitutional Bill of Rights and adopts reasonable protection of ‘fair use’ citatations for journalistic or political commentary or critique, small publishers of political opinion are well advised to host offshore.

Mind you, it was the news item on the SMH regarding the NSW Minerals Council’s complaints prompting the shutdown of Rising Tide’s jam website which drew my attention to the matter. Rising Tide definitely should send a thank-you note to the NSW Minerals Council for the massive publicity. Bottle of carbon-free wine or something.

-weez




nice post, you’ve got some good points. but as the desinger for the website in question, I’d like to point out a few mistakes

it wasn’t exactly screen grabs the first time. we simply downloaded the whole site and changed the text. we did use screen grabs for the big images though. the flash animation made that easy.

the new site isn’t hosted in germany, it’s hosted in afghanistan. where did you get germany from?

australia DOES have some kind of fair use law – only it’s called “fair dealing”. there’s a section in that for parody, but it’s new, and hasn’t been tried in a court yet.

The SMH article timing wasn’t an accident :). somehow I don’t think Doctor Nikki Williams and I share the same taste in wine. I bet she drinks sweet white.

cheers
ned

Comment by naught101 03.05.07 @ 6:17 pm


Ned said:

the new site isnt hosted in germany, its hosted in afghanistan. where did you get germany from?

By doing a tracert on miningnsw.com.au. This shows the hosting server as being 85.214.23.85 (box-s-02.schlabach.de).

Richard Neville’s parody of the PM got whacked in March, 2006. Wonder if that was before or after the implementation of the new ‘fair dealing’ standard. I know there were some reforms to defamation law which took place on 1 January 2007- is this related?

Great work on getting the SMH ink. 🙂

Comment by weez 03.05.07 @ 10:03 pm

I’ve read through this new guide on Australian copyright regulations concerning parody and satire (provisions ss 41A and 103AA). It doesn’t actually say much- it’s very much open to interpretation of the courts… and looks to be one of the better arguments for a constitutional Bill of Rights for Australia.

What’s kinda interesting though is that the bookmark icon for the preceding link on the Attorney General’s website the same bookmark icon used on the Gilbert + Tobin law firm’s website.

More interesting yet is that someone from Gilbert + Tobin browsed this very post a little earlier this evening. The G+T browser found mgk by searching Google for “rising tide” +mining.

I don’t suppose G+T are representing the NSW Minerals Council, are they? 😉

Comment by weez 03.05.07 @ 10:26 pm

nah, I think we have some friends in contact with Gilbert and Tobin lawyers. the people representing the NSWMC are Freehills.

I dunno what the deal is with the icon? same design firm?

Comment by naught101 03.06.07 @ 12:58 pm

the people representing the NSWMC are Freehills.

oh, ok. Good info, tho.

Sometimes little bits and swizzles from a template in a page compositor app eg. Front Page might get carried over from one job to the next if everything’s not quite reset to defaults, etc.

Could be the same design firm- or perhaps G+T do some work for the AG. I believe Freehills may do some work for the gubmint- didn’t they draft the WorkChoices stuff?

Perhaps all insignificant- but still curious.

Comment by weez 03.06.07 @ 1:12 pm