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I missed the PublicACTA discussions in Wellington today as I was in Auckland for the day talking to Chiasma bio-tech students about science communication.

Ironically, even in my discussion with the students, the vexed issue of copyright came up. The Chiasma members are competing in the Comvita Video Challenge where they are being tasked with creating three minute science videos. “Can I use a Michael Jackson video for the soundtrack to my song?” One student asked? “What if I want to use a graphic from Nature?” Another inquired?

The answer, strictly speaking, is yes – they need to go and get permissions from the rights-holders which is a nightmare and barely worth considering. Nature is likely to be more understanding, but Michael Jackson’s rightsholders. Where do you begin?

There is probably  some scope for the videos being covered by the “fair use” provisions of the Copyright Act which covers educational use of copyrighted material, but I’d be reluctant to try it as a Youtube video that goes viral is likely to draw the attention of the Wacko Jacko legal eagles.

Anyway, it appears as though 100 people hammered out a declaration on ACTA in Wellington today. The text of that will be released tomorrow, so I really look forward to reading it. In the meantime, lots of backgorund material on InternetNZ’s very good website.

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