Monday, March 05, 2007

Coal lobby censors climate change website

5 March 2007: MINING INDUSTRY SILENCING DISSENT: A satirical website created by climate action group Rising Tide Newcastle has twice been shut down this fortnight by powerful coal industry lobby group, the NSW Minerals Council...
The website is a parody of the NSW Minerals Council's big-budget spin-doctor campaign to promote the 'virtues' of the coal industry.

Climate activist group Rising Tide built the site to highlight the growing contribution coal exports make to climate change.

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has criticised the powerful coal industry lobby group, the NSW Minerals Council, for attempting to censor the climate change debate by getting their lawyers to shut down a community based climate change website.

"This is an extraordinary case of censorship by the powerful coal industry," said Ms Rhiannon. "The NSW Minerals Council is pulling out all stops to censor public debate on the deadly impact of coal on our climate at a time when robust open debate on the future of coal is urgently needed."

"A recent Hunter survey that showed more than half of people in the Hunter now feel the negative impacts of coal far outweigh the positive benefits, has pushed the powerful coal lobby to this desperate measure."

After lawyers for the NSW Minerals Council complained to the website hosting company that Rising Tide's content was in breach of copyright, the website was shut down. Rising Tide contested this claim and hit back by re-designing the website to ensure it was not subject to copyright, but the lawyers moved in a second time and had the website shut down again. Rising Tide has now filed a counter claim that the NSW Mineral Council's grounds were spurious, and have re-launched their website today using an overseas internet service provider to protect the site from further attack.

"The NSW Minerals Council must be prepared to face open debate about coal instead of censoring community opinions that they are uncomfortable with," said Ms Rhiannon.

- NSW Mineral Council's coal public relations website –
- Rising Tide's parody website –

The website was conceived as a response to the Minerals Council's “Life. Brought to you by Mining” advertising campaign.

The Minerals Council campaign, which argues that mining is inextricable from modern luxury can be viewed at Rising Tide members created a parody website at in order to present the other side of the story and address the damage wrought by mining to the local and global environment and to the local community.

Steve Phillips, spokesperson for Rising Tide Newcastle said, “The coal export industry constitutes NSW's biggest single contribution to global climate change. There is also growing public awareness of the terrible impacts of coal mining on biodiversity, water and air quality. The Minerals Council want people to know that luxury is dependent on mining: All we want is for the public to be fully informed about the consequences of that luxury, and to realise that while we can have jobs without coal, and we can have energy without coal, we cannot have a coal industry without climate change.”

Rising Tide has now moved the site to an off-shore host in order that the information contained within it can remain in the public domain.

“The Minerals Council is abusing legal process to ensure that its public-relations spin is unquestioned and that community criticism of its methods or message is quashed as quickly as possible” said Ned Haughton, the site’s graphical designer.

Mr. Phillips continued, "We have issued a counter-notice rejecting the Minerals Council's spurious claims. The Minerals Council now has ten days in which to take the matter further."

“The Minerals Council say they want a “balanced debate” on the impacts of coal mining on local, regional, and global environments – we welcome that wholeheartedly. Their rhetoric however, is sharply at odds with their attempts to silence legitimate criticism from community groups.”

For more information:

Ned Haughton on 0417 484 735
Steve Phillips on 0437 275 119.

* On February 19th this year, the NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) launched an expensive public relations campaign with the slogan “Life: Brought to you by mining.” The campaign includes billboards, television, and newspaper advertisements, and the website

* Shortly after the launch of the NSWMC website, Rising Tide Newcastle (RTN)set up a satirical and critical website at This website was a mirror image of the NSWMC website, except that the text was different, describing the negative social and environmental effects of the mining industry.

* The hosts of the RTN website were contacted by NSWMC lawyers within 24 hours of the launch of the site. The NSWMC lawyers abused a clause of the Commonwealth Copyright Regulations to forced the website hosts to remove the site. RTN created the original website as a satirical imitation of the NSWMC site, with rewritten commentary. While this was most probably legal under the Copyright Act's Fair Dealing clause as a parody, the hosts were legally required to remove the site pending a response to the Minerals Council's claim of copyright infringement, which did not specify the articles of alleged copyright.

* RTN then completely re-made the site, with original layout and images that were either original or used with permission, in order to remove all possibility of copyright infringement. The NSWMC lawyers nevertheless contacted the new website hosts within 24 hours, with a similar claim letter, and again had the site removed under Regulation 20J of the Copyright Regulations.

* While the site had not contravened any copyright laws, as the lawyers for the NSWMC may well have known, the host was again legally obliged to remove the site.

* RTN have submitted a counter-notice, rejecting the allegations of the NSWMC. The NSWMC now have a 10 period in which they can take the matter further, which would require taking RTN to court over the incident.

* In the meantime, the RTN website has been relaunched with an offshore host. International copyright law does not have the same automatic take-down clause of Australian copyright law.

Parody Site:
Sydney Indymedia - Climate Mining

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