Letters to
the editor

Immigrants fear racial profiling

The wildfire indignation incited by the influence-peddling of a few recently arrived wealthy, powerful Chinese is concerning (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Influencer containment”, June 10-16). I worry that such loud protests risk unleashing the demons of race-based discrimination and abuse against the whole Australian-Chinese community. Unlike the accused few, most newly arrived immigrants from China want to establish families and careers in the adopted countries to which they pledge their allegiance. Some were granted asylum after the Tiananmen Square slayings and others such as Falun Gong members were forced to leave because of religious persecution. During these fractured and suspicion-laden times, I fear the spillover from Australia’s anti-China voices being conflated with hatred for the Chinese such as myself, just as violence visited upon peaceful Muslims was fuelled by the community outrage that identifies a whole community as being complicit in terrorist acts.

– Dr Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld

US fair use system not so fair

The Arts Law Centre of Australia and the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) were dismayed to read Patricia Aufderheide’s article “Artistic licence” (June 10-16). In supporting the fair use regime, Aufderheide exaggerated the time and expense involved in licensing work in Australia and ignored the uncertainty of fair use exceptions as applied in the United States. US creator organisations have had to develop codes of conduct to understand what fair use actually means. Sadly, extensive (and expensive) litigation has failed to make the rules any clearer. The Arts Law Centre and NAVA are independent organisations dedicated to providing services and advice to thousands of artists each year. Hundreds of artists recently responded to our surveys about copyright, fair dealing, licensing and US-style fair use exceptions. Some respondents identified as creators who also use other people’s content. Rather than complaining about the “rigidity” of the copyright system, typically Australian artists respect other creators’ copyright and expect to ask permission and pay for use. If they can’t afford it, they don’t use it. “I work under the same principle as going into a shop. I see something I want, decide if I want it so much I will pay the price or not and go without. It’s really quite simple.” The article also ignores the importance of moral rights in Australia, especially the artist’s right of integrity – for an artist not to have their work subjected to derogatory treatment. Australian artists are generally appalled at some of the appropriation art which is allowed under the US fair use exception. For Indigenous artists and their communities it is an abomination. Before jumping on the fair use bandwagon, we urge our policymakers to undertake independent research on the impact on Australia’s creators.

– Robin Ayres, CEO Arts Law and Tamara Winikoff, executive director NAVA

Another barrier for artists

The explanatory article by Professor Patricia Aufderheide was both comprehensive and instructive. As a writer of eBooks, this is just the sort of valuable information that can make a big difference. The revelation that Australia is so strict, so pedantic, when it comes to copyright legislation is no great surprise. It mirrors our approach to both boat people and terrorist suspects. Australia is already at a disadvantage where creative licence is concerned. Creative artists do not need lawyers telling them how to disseminate their inspired works. As with all aspects of globalisation, the progressive policies of our trading partners is the last item to be allowed into our country. Rigidity, for copyright laws, is just one more barrier to entry limiting Australian creative endeavours.

– G. J. T. McKenzie, Chatswood, NSW

One family’s dignity

Thank you for your much-needed editorial marking the tragic passing of Anthony Foster (“The strength of the Fosters”, June 3-9). The pain that this family endured for so long can only be matched by the grace and dignity with which they sought justice from a chillingly uninterested George Pell and his church. That the breathtaking lack of concern shown by Cardinal Pell continued for so long with ferociously fought legal battles would be enough in itself to break the spirit of most people. How are these people fit to minister to anyone, let alone victims of crimes committed by their own members?

– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW

Timely warning on going under

I’m just getting over a fairly major operation – six hours on the table, a day in the intensive care unit and a week on the ward – and so read FL’s review of Kate Cole-Adams’ Anaesthesia (Books, May 27-June 2) with more than passing interest. I don’t remember if there was a “THE PATIENT CAN HEAR” sign on the wall of the operating theatre. Research, FL tells us, “finds that the trauma can largely be assuaged if patients are told ahead of time that ‘they might briefly wake and find themselves unable to move, and that this would pass’.” This is exactly what I was told by my anaesthetist in the lead-up to the operation. They added that they would be monitoring me and would do their best to bring me back under. I did not wake up during the procedure. Well, not that I’m aware of. Book and review suggest it’s possible to wake up without remembering that one has done so.

– Floyd Kermode, Melbourne, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 17, 2017.

For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.

All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.

There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription