Sam on 25 Aug 2000 22:54:24 -0000

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John Farnham is one of Australia's most well-known singer songwriters. In
the late 1980s his popularity sky-rocketed with a series of hit songs. One
of those songs, 'You're the Voice', has recently been chosen as the
'unofficial' theme for the upcoming S-11 protests against the World
Economic Forum (WEF) and corporate globalisation, scheduled for September
11 in Melbourne. 

The S-11 protest website,, claims the singer has a long
history of writing socially progressive songs. There is a link to an audio
file (which does not seem to work) and lists lyrics from some of his

BMG, the record label Farnham is signed to has emailed the S-11 website
operators claiming they are infringing copyright and demanding that any
reference to the songs, including links, be removed immediately. But the
website operators have said that they will only do this if John Farnham
personally asks them to. 

But is it illegal to have a web link to third party content? "Sometimes
it's legal, sometimes it's illegal", says law firm Gilbert & Tobin's
Brendan Scott, a specialist on internet-related issues. "If a link is
authorising the making of a copy without permission from the copyright
owner, or representing a sponsorship, approval or affiliation the person
does not have, then the link can be illegal", he says. 

How BMG plans to enforce their demand is unclear. Forcing the removal of
content from the internet is a difficult process. The site describes
itself as an independent affinity group of the S-11 protests and claims
that there is no ownership over it. 

The association of John Farnham with the S-11 website has given the
protest national media coverage. It is unclear weather associating the
protest with a popular Australian singer was a tactic to generate
publicity or whether it was simply a prank that accidentally captured the
attention of journalists. 

The website operators claim they find John Farnham's songs inspiring. "His
songs are socially very progressive", they say. "For example, one of his
songs is about the media distorting reality - 'manufacture of consent,
turn your fiction into fact, the story's more important than the truth,
selective information sold'". 

It is surprising that BMG has reacted so strongly against the website of
the marginalised S-11 protests. Some within the movement claim that the
record company is deliberately publicising the issue to increase John
Farnham's profile, especially to a younger audience. But more likely, BMG
is attempting to protect the image of one its popular artists, especially
since Farnham will be performing at the opening ceremony of the upcoming
Olympic Games in Sydney. 

References:  the protest website  a profile of the singer created by a fan

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