Linux/Open Source Against US-AU FTA Intellectual Property Clauses

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    The Honourable Members of the Australian House of Representatives and Senate
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    Members of Linux Australia
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We are Australians who use and develop Open Source software such as
Linux. We appreciate the balanced protections Australia's intellectual
property regime offers us, both as authors and consumers, and the
vibrant culture that this protection has made possible.

This balance is undermined by provisions in Chapter 17 of the
Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. We believe that this
agreement will harm the flourishing Australian Open Source community
both directly by making legitimate and useful Open Source software
illegal, and indirectly by preventing the Australian Parliament from
considering changes to our intellectual property laws on their own

We believe that Australian interests are not served by
anti-circumvention laws which make criminals of people who want to play
imported games on locally bought consoles, that prevent the development
and use of Open Source DVD players, or that see software developers
imprisoned for writing programs that allow the blind to read electronic

We believe that the protection offered by patents is poorly suited to
inventions that require little upfront effort or cost to create or
distribute, as is the case for many software creations. We believe that
the ban on Open Source reimplementations of patented ideas removes
healthy and economically beneficial competition.

We fear the effects of committing to the lower standard of patents of
the widely criticised US Patent and Trademark Office. Changes to the
patent system may provide an insurmountable obstacle to innovative open
source development in the future.

Above all, we believe Australia needs the flexibility to ensure that our
intellectual property laws meet the challenges faced by Australians as
we continue into the information age. We must not limit our potential by
erecting barriers to trade and innovation, entrenching anti-competitive
behaviour, or acting against our own national interest.