Australian Book Publishing Rip-Offs – continued

So, I got a nice message from Dymocks the other day offering me Kerry Greenwood’s Cocaine Blues in paperback for AU $22.99. Nice price for a paperback in Australia (although I would need to add on some extra for postage). Maybe when I am back in Sydney later this month I could pick up a copy. I do like a nice piece of crime fiction and the fact that this was set in the period of Wooster and Jeeves, although in Australia, I thought it might be worth a look. The description also sounded good:

The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the green-grey eyes, diamant garters and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions – is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men. Instead, Phryne decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia.

Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops and communism – not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse – until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

Well, I’m sure we all like a hot, steamy Turkish bath in Little Lonsdale Street. Then I noticed the silliness. Recently I’ve taken to e-Books over the paper version, especially for the pulp and historical fiction I enjoy reading. Save a tree, etc etc. There was a link on the page to Google eBooks for a version of this for AU $19.99. OK, not so much of a saving then. What was annoying though was the following:

We could not add this item to your cart. Your computer appears to be located outside of the Australia. Sorry, our Google eBooks catalogue is not available for purchase outside of Australia.

So, it’s not that I am not in Australia but that my computer appears elsewhere in the world. What a crock of s***. If I wait a week, then my computer will be in Australia again and I can purchase it. Or I could start my VPN, select “Australia” as the end point and then purchase it. How idiotic of the publishers and Google (I’ll probably find the Google rank of Thomo’s Hole falling as a result of this).

Just in case you wondered where all this was leading – well, Australian publishers enjoy extra, non-market force protection in Australia which means that Australian bookshops are forced to buy from those publishers first. Australian bookshops are doing it hard as a result because they are no longer competitive against international bookstores. Proof?

The same book from Book Depository published in 2007 costs AU $13.91 delivered to me in either Singapore or Sydney. Big difference isn’t it.

Of course, the annoying thing is that I can’t buy an electronic version of it yet as it is not available on the Kindle, where I am sure it’s pricing would be around $10.

Protectionism sucks – if the book is good it will get published, it doesn’t need price protection. If it’s crap, why should it get price protection anyway, it will just end up in the remainder stores. Let the reader decide, not the fat Australian publishers.

Fatima and Mansour

Fatima Case Verdict Opens Door to More Forced Divorces

Some time last year Fatima’s half-brother contended that Mansour had lied to the family about his tribal background so that the family would permit him to marry Fatima. Now, there is nothing, apparently, in the Islamic Law that restricts marriages along tribal grounds.

However, Fatima’s family went to court (without Fatima and Mansour it must be added) and had the pair forcibly divorced. Neither Fatima or Mansour wanted this and the pair have two children. However, they were divorced.

Fatima was then imprisoned last year (around October) as she had been living with Mansour without being married to him (remember, the family had them divorced). She is still in prison with one of her children, the other child being cared for by her father.

Fatima and Mansour appealed to the courts to have the divorce overturned and the marriage reinstated. The appeal court overturned that appeal and so, as Fatima refuses to return to her family (father, half-brother etc), she remains in prison.

Her father had given permission for her to marry Mansour and she was legally married, although as a result of the divorce, she was arrested for living with Mansour.

This is not the only case like this here. There is also the case of Rania Abou Al-Enin who is a physician and was married to Saud Al-Khaledi. Rania’s father filed a lawsuit to the court to have her divorced from Saud.

OK, so marriages sometimes fail but when they fail it should be the couple themselves who decide on the failure and the divorce, even here.

The only option open to Fatima and Mansour at the moment is to appeal to the King to order the Higher Court Council to review the case one more time, although there is still no guarantee that they will overturn the divorce.

Seems this time though that women from all over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been petitioning King Abdullah to intervene in the case. It does seem rather a disaster though when the family can ask the court to divorce a married couple, when the couple were married with the permission of the families in the first place. It seems a bigger disaster when the King has to be appealed to to have the whole thing looked at and reversed.

Family Night In Saudi Arabia

Last night (Wednesday night in Jeddah and therefore the same as Friday night in the rest of the world) we went to Chili’s for dinner. Neither of us had eaten there before, either here in Saudi or elsewhere, so we thought we’d give it a try. We got to the singles entrance (can’t go into the Family entrance as where the women eat is separate from the single men … this is to protect the women and prevent lasciviousness I guess).

Of course, single women and married couples can go into the family section so you work that out.

Anyway, we went to the singles entrance and it was closed. The family entrance was open. We then walked up to the road to Ruby Tuesday’s. There was at least a sign there on the singles entrance saying “Wednesday Night is Family Night” – so only single women, and married couples (with or without children) can go. It sucks.

We then walked on to TGI Friday’s which was open for families AND singles and ate there.

We then decided that we would not eat at Chili’s, or at Ruby Tuesday, because of their ill treatment of singles (er, men not accompanied by their wives) at any time and will positively encourage all those we know not to eat there either.

Friday’s, on the other hand, gets our full support … and our dinner Riyals (unless of course they are closed tonight for “Family Night”).

Australia’s Copyright Debacle

In an effort to suck up more to the USA as part of the Free Trade Agreement, Australia is revamping its copyright legislation and proudly proclaiming that New Zealand, the UK and other places are watching as they will want to copy the Australian model.

Bollocks. For a start, New Zealand has its own mind and has always been more enlightened about not using copyright legislation to criminalise ordinary folks. Remember that New Zealand was the first country where it was legal (indeed mandatory) to have region-free DVD players.

So, what is Australia up to? Well, the latest effort is best seen on the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 – Frequently Asked Questions where such wonderful pieces of advice and answers to questions include:

Is it an offence for a 14 year old to record himself or herself lip-synching a pop song and post it on the Internet?

Recording yourself lip-synching a pop song may mean that you are making an unauthorised copy of the sound recording. However, posting the recording on the Internet will not in itself constitute a criminal offence.

If the recording is posted for the purposes of trade, it may amount to a criminal offence and be subject to an on-the-spot fine.

Well, that’s OK – it is not an offence for a 14 year-old to record themself lip-synching, as long as you can’t hear what they are lip-synching to. Of course, what this doesn’t say is that it is an offence for the same 14 year old to actually sing the song themself so presumably it’ll be a case of the constabulary slipping around to the 14 year old’s home and “slapping on the braclets”.

Of course, what is even sillier is:

Can I still sing Happy Birthday in a public place?

Yes. Even if the words or lyrics to Happy Birthday were still in copyright in Australia, simply singing it in public would not be enough to attract criminal liability. There are no on-the-spot fines for this conduct.

This means that, for example, a busker can sing a copyright song at the entrance to Wynyard Station in Sydney where thousands of people can see and hear the performance and in many cases leave money for the busker’s performance. But if the busker performs it on the Internet where probably only a few people will see it unless it happens to become an Internet Classic, then it becomes an offence even if the busker is not making any money from it.

Best of all, however, is the following:

Can I play a DVD that I have bought overseas?

Yes. You can use a multi-zone DVD player to view the DVD if it has a region coding TPM on it.

Of course, to do this you must use a DVD player that circumvents the TPM (Technology Protection Measure) and the legislation makes it illegal to circumvent that technology. What makes this even more bizarre is that the legislation allows me to “format-shift” copyright protected material, unless that “format-shift” needs to circumvent the TPM. So this means, for example, that if I buy a DVD in the US, I can watch it on my multi-region DVD player but I cannot convert it to an MPEG format for uploading to my PSP to watch it there.

The copyright legislation is legislation from people that do not understand and are being too influenced by international interest groups.

Oh, and one last thing, lest I be arrested for breaching Commonwealth of Australia copyright, the following should be noted about the excerpts (strongly emphasized) above:

© 2005, Commonwealth of Australia

The material contained on this web site constitutes Commonwealth copyright and is intended for your general use and information. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice, and any headers and footers) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. You may distribute any copies of downloaded material in unaltered, complete form only (retaining this notice, and any headers and footers). All other rights are reserved.

Requests for further authorisation should be directed to the:

Commonwealth Copyright Administration Copyright Law Branch Attorney-General’s Department Robert Garran Offices National Circuit BARTON  ACT 2600

or at

Saudi Censors

OK – I posted an entry to the blog here called A Test Post – Can I Post a Picture and posted it. I included a picture of two models of the Russian warship Poltava. It appears as though the post went through correctly and the upload of the picture worked as the link to the picture is, whenever I click on what should be the image in the post I get a wonderful message from the Saudi Arabian Censors saying (in Arabic as well as English):

Access to the requested URL is not allowed!

Please, fill out the form below if you believe the requested page should not be blocked:

Form for URL unblocking request

Please, send other sites you feel should be blocked using the following form:

Blocking Request Form

Of course, I could list any sites that annoyed me and I am sure they would be blocked without checking.I am not certain that I want to try the unblocking request yet – perhaps when it is closer to my time to leave.

Of course, I could list any sites that annoyed me and I am sure they would be blocked without checking.I am not certain that I want to try the unblocking request yet – perhaps when it is closer to my time to leave.More importantly, the Censors are blocking pictures posted to Blogger beta here … but permitting access to pictures elsewhere, on other blogs hosted by other organisations. Seems that Google’s influence in the Kingdom here is not as great as other American Organisations.