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Old 28th May 2020, 05:07 PM   #1
arthwollipot
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Palace Letters To Be Released

Palace letters: high court ruling paves the way for release of Queen's secret correspondence before 1975 Whitlam dismissal

Quote:
Historian Jenny Hocking wins landmark case after campaigning for release of secret letters between monarch and then Australian governor general Sir John Kerr


Historian Jenny Hocking has won a landmark high court case in her bid to secure sensitive correspondence between the Queen and former Australian governor general Sir John Kerr about the dismissal of Gough Whitlam.

The high court on Friday ruled that the commonwealth was wrong in its withholding of the so-called “palace letters”, a series of more than 200 exchanges between the Queen, her private secretary, and Kerr, the then governor general, in the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal of Whitlam, the then Australian prime minister.

Hocking is now calling on the National Archive of Australia (NAA) to immediately release the 211 letters, saying the public deserves to know the full history of the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australia’s history.

...

The letters represent communications between the two highest members of Australia’s constitutional monarchy in the lead-up to the sacking of a democratically elected prime minister, one of the most important episodes in the nation’s history.
What do you think? Should these letters, which have previously been deemed "personal correspondence" be released? I mean, they're going to be released, but do you think that's a good idea? I for one would like to know what role the Queen had in the leadup to the Dismissal and I think it's exceptionally likely that she was very involved in the decision making process. But there's an argument to be made that they shouldn't be released until after she has passed away, and let's face it, she's 94, so that can't be very far away.
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Old 28th May 2020, 05:54 PM   #2
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I think they should be released, but I think they will turn out to be an anti climax.

I don't think waiting for the Queen to die (which could be ten years away) is necessary.
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Old 28th May 2020, 06:28 PM   #3
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I don't think waiting for the Queen to pass is necessary either.
She probably doesn't give a flying fig about what the offspring of those foul convicts her ancestors sent there think about anything.
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Old 28th May 2020, 06:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
I don't think waiting for the Queen to pass is necessary either.
She probably doesn't give a flying fig about what the offspring of those foul convicts her ancestors sent there think about anything.
Once again I feel constrained to point out that the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians are descended from free settlers (aka colonists aka invaders).
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Old 28th May 2020, 06:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
What do you think?
I think it's a step in the right direction to say the Royle Family isn't above oversight.

It's that bastard Charles whose correspondence I'd like to see - he's been sticking his grubby little fingers in politics for a long, long time.
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Old 28th May 2020, 06:56 PM   #6
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My view is that the Queen would have made it fairly clear that she was not going to become involved in local foreign political decisions.


Oh, and the letters are public records, and should have been released years ago.


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Old 28th May 2020, 07:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
My view is that the Queen would have made it fairly clear that she was not going to become involved in local foreign political decisions.
This was hardly a run-of-the-mill foreign political decision though.

Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
Oh, and the letters are public records, and should have been released years ago.
They were deemed "private correspondence". Do you think that there might have been something to hide?
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Old 28th May 2020, 08:07 PM   #8
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If the letters of the Queen are public records, then they should be released (save for state secrets). In England, I suspect that they would be considered private correspondence. However, in Australia, they were documents sent to a government employee acting in his official capacity. That makes them public records. That's why they're in the National Archives to begin with. In any case, I see no reason why Australia should have to keep another country's secrets.
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:00 AM   #9
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There are two possibilities
1. The Queen said something she should not have said.
2. The Queen said nothing of consequence.

If the former then Australians have a right to know and should have known at the time. If the later then it will be an anticlimax. If John Kerr said something that he should not have said it does not matter, he is in disgrace and dead.

It will be slightly more complex than the above.
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:20 AM   #10
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As a Yank, who is thoroughly proud of his nation's anti-monarchy stand, the idea that there exists an hereditary monarch who would write anything that would be of any significant interest to the public is unfortunate.

But, it's really fun to watch all the medievalism, so I hope the queen, and even her offspring, will stick around as real things.


Anecdote that Arthwollipot might specifically appreciate:

One of the things we always did in the Barony of Wurm Wald, a college-centered group at the University of Illinois, was hold a "new member night" at one of our fall meetings. It was after an "activity day" where campus clubs would set up tables and try to recruit new members, especially incoming freshman. At one, it was decided we would go around the room and ask everyone, newcomer or veteran, to say their names and what they did, or were interested in doing, in the SCA. At one point, one of the new members stood up and said, in a rather thick British accent, "Hello. My name is Warren Taylor, and I'm a Briton, and I'm here to find out why you think this is all anachronistic."


So, Her Majesty's private correspondence ought to remain private, because if there is anything in it that anyone ought to care about, there shouldn't be. Let the tabloids wait until after she is dead.
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:22 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Palace letters: high court ruling paves the way for release of Queen's secret correspondence before 1975 Whitlam dismissal

What do you think? Should these letters, which have previously been deemed "personal correspondence" be released? I mean, they're going to be released, but do you think that's a good idea? I for one would like to know what role the Queen had in the leadup to the Dismissal and I think it's exceptionally likely that she was very involved in the decision making process. But there's an argument to be made that they shouldn't be released until after she has passed away, and let's face it, she's 94, so that can't be very far away.

Yes they should be available, she was the head of state, the idea these were personal correspondence is ridiculous.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:56 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
As a Yank, who is thoroughly proud of his nation's anti-monarchy stand, the idea that there exists an hereditary monarch who would write anything that would be of any significant interest to the public is unfortunate.
Tell me about it.
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Old 29th May 2020, 06:51 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Palace letters: high court ruling paves the way for release of Queen's secret correspondence before 1975 Whitlam dismissal

What do you think? Should these letters, which have previously been deemed "personal correspondence" be released? I mean, they're going to be released, but do you think that's a good idea? I for one would like to know what role the Queen had in the leadup to the Dismissal and I think it's exceptionally likely that she was very involved in the decision making process. But there's an argument to be made that they shouldn't be released until after she has passed away, and let's face it, she's 94, so that can't be very far away.

Why wait for her to die? She's our head of state.
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Old 29th May 2020, 06:54 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Yes they should be available, she was the head of state, the idea these were personal correspondence is ridiculous.
I'm sure it's just 211 Christmas cards.
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Old 29th May 2020, 06:57 AM   #15
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I agree the letters should be released, but I’m predicting a nothing burger.

“Please take care GG that you follow protocol and don’t scare the horses“.

I’m hoping for more salacious stuff, but I doubt the queen even thought too much at all about the issue.
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Old 29th May 2020, 07:23 AM   #16
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Clearly none of you regularly correspond with Liz. I have been for years, and her letters are dynamite! Full of spicy remarks and saucy gossip, littered with swears and obscenities, and in the margins she frequently doodles nude self-portraits. She's a pretty good artist, is Liz. The main barrier to publishing her letters, apart from the inevitable libel suits and state secrets exposed and public outcry over the deeply shocking, sexy things she says, is that Liz writes largely in a combination of outdated Cockney gutter speech, Polari, and Esperanto. She said she picked up all three back in the 50s when she did a double-bluff drag act two nights a week. I think perhaps the world simply isn't ready for the revelations Liz's letters contain. Even Australia would be shocked.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:10 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Once again I feel constrained to point out that the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians are descended from free settlers (aka colonists aka invaders).
That's not what Vincini said, and he's smarter than Plato and Aristotle.

Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:12 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Yes they should be available, she was the head of state, the idea these were personal correspondence is ridiculous.
Whether it's ridiculous or not, she wrote with the justified belief that the writings would be treated as private. I think it would be wrong to retroactively falsify that belief. She made an informed decision about what to disclose. Nullifying that decision just because you're impatient to find out minor details of a historical event is kind of a dick move.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:18 AM   #19
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Release the letters! Finally we will discover what her and her reptilian family have been hiding in Area 51 and her role in 9/11. This is going to be bigger than Wikileaks!
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:19 AM   #20
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People have a right to know how they are being governed. If the letters relate to official duties as to the governance of the country there shouldn't be any question. Obviously they should be released. I admit that's an American point of view and we're a bit tone deaf on this whole "royalty" thing.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:44 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
People have a right to know how they are being governed. If the letters relate to official duties as to the governance of the country there shouldn't be any question. Obviously they should be released. I admit that's an American point of view and we're a bit tone deaf on this whole "royalty" thing.
Interestingly enough, Americans are having a similar issue:
The University of Delaware Library has acquired the senatorial papers of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who was elected to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate in 2008, but resigned in January 2009 when he was sworn in as the 47th vice president of the United States. More than 1,850 boxes of archival records from the Vice President’s Senate career arrived at the Library on June 6, 2012. The collection, which also includes extensive electronic records and media, will remain closed pending completion of processing. The records will be available no sooner than the later date of December 31, 2019, or two years after the donor retires from public life.

https://library.udel.edu/special/jos...torial-papers/
This is a man running for the highest public office, but actual documents relating to his public service are being treated as private materials, to be published only after he retires from public life.

It is baffling to me that either of these sets of documents would be considered private, but that's how it is. I don't think it's an "American" point of view to think otherwise. Obviously many Americans, including career public servants and academics, think that sealing these kinds of records is perfectly cromulent.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:48 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Release the letters! Finally we will discover what her and her reptilian family have been hiding in Area 51 and her role in 9/11. This is going to be bigger than Wikileaks!
I could see publishing just the sections relating to the Dismissal (if any). There's no need to publish everything else she wrote based on a promise of privacy. How much of this is "I need to really nail down a footnote in my upcoming history of the Dismissal", and how much is "I wonder what other stuff I can write about, once I have access to the Queen's private correspondence"?
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Old 29th May 2020, 11:41 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Whether it's ridiculous or not, she wrote with the justified belief that the writings would be treated as private. I think it would be wrong to retroactively falsify that belief. She made an informed decision about what to disclose. Nullifying that decision just because you're impatient to find out minor details of a historical event is kind of a dick move.

They are state letters, if she had wanted privacy she had and still does have the option to abdicate. And then I’d support her right to personal privacy.
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Old 29th May 2020, 11:49 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
They are state letters, if she had wanted privacy she had and still does have the option to abdicate. And then I’d support her right to personal privacy.
I don't think it's reasonable to say that everything an official does is official and therefore public. I think even the Queen is entitled to have a private life.
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:28 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think it's reasonable to say that everything an official does is official and therefore public. I think even the Queen is entitled to have a private life.
I agree. The problem I have with that argument is that the letters in question are not in her possession. They are in the possession of the Australian government. When you send a letter to someone else, whatever you sent is no longer under your control, it's under the control of the recipient. You may wish for them to remain private, but absent any specific statutory requirement for confidentiality (ie, between a client and their lawyer), they are not in fact private if the recipient doesn't act to make them so. If the recipient considered these letters truly private, they should never have been passed off to the National Archives, but they were.

I would oppose any move to make the queen reveal any similar correspondence in her custody, but these letters are not.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:27 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
They are state letters, if she had wanted privacy she had and still does have the option to abdicate. And then I’d support her right to personal privacy.
That would seem to make sense, until you think about the whole concept of monarchy.

In a democracy, it seems reasonable to assert that the people delegated by the people to run the government would be answerable to the people, and that should probably include having any correspondence exchanged during the conduct of official business disclosed to the people, as part of their legitimate oversight role.

However, The Queen is not The Queen as a result of an election. Her Majesty is Queen by Grace of God. When you are Queen by Grace of God, you don't have to answer to every peasant who wants to stick her nose into your personal business. There should be no expectation that you can read her letters.


Unless, of course, the law says you should, because, really, all of the "Queen by Grace of God" stuff is just a way of generating tourist revenue, and a subsidy to the tabloid industry.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:31 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think it's reasonable to say that everything an official does is official and therefore public. I think even the Queen is entitled to have a private life.
Yes, but I think private life would be Elizabeth writing to her school chum, Marmsie. The monarch writing to the governor-general of Australia isn't her private life, it's acting as the monarch. You can't queen at people and then claim you're just being Jenny from the block.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:34 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Palace letters: high court ruling paves the way for release of Queen's secret correspondence before 1975 Whitlam dismissal

What do you think? Should these letters, which have previously been deemed "personal correspondence" be released?
.....
For those of us who weren't following Australian politics 45 years ago, what is the issue? Did the Queen remove the PM? On what grounds? Was that by authority of Australian law? Did she take a position publicly? What did a majority of Australians think at the time? Is the PM still alive? What does he say?
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:42 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
For those of us who weren't following Australian politics 45 years ago, what is the issue? Did the Queen remove the PM? On what grounds? Was that by authority of Australian law? Did she take a position publicly? What did a majority of Australians think at the time? Is the PM still alive? What does he say?
Not that hard to find

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_A...utional_crisis
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:43 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
For those of us who weren't following Australian politics 45 years ago, what is the issue? Did the Queen remove the PM? On what grounds? Was that by authority of Australian law? Did she take a position publicly? What did a majority of Australians think at the time? Is the PM still alive? What does he say?
The Wikipedia article on the Whitlam Dismissal is pretty interesting, and seems to cover most or all of those questions at least in summary form.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:44 PM   #31
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Something something Dippity Bix, something something. Very clear.
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Old 29th May 2020, 03:55 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Once again I feel constrained to point out that the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians are descended from free settlers (aka colonists aka invaders).

Whatever helps you sleep at night...


(Canada had convicts sent from Britain too so there's a lot of crazy and useless DNA in our ancestry. At least that's how we explain Nickelback.)
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Old 29th May 2020, 07:17 PM   #33
fromdownunder
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
This was hardly a run-of-the-mill foreign political decision though.

They were deemed "private correspondence". Do you think that there might have been something to hide?

Why would I think that? I doubt that she would have even drafted the letters, but would have simply advised her Secretary what she wanted to say in broad terms, then approved and sent the final draft. And I genuinely doubt that she interfered.

If they were State Business, then there would not have been a "and how is Aunt Milly?" in them. But if, for some reason there was non official business in some of them, the "BTW Frida is pregnant to her pool boy" bit could be redacted, and the rest of the letter released. And if they were completely personal ("Happy Birthday!", or "Why did you get pissed at the Melbourne Cup?"), which again I doubt, then they did not belong in the PRO in the first place.

Norm
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:24 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
If they were State Business, then there would not have been a "and how is Aunt Milly?" in them. But if, for some reason there was non official business in some of them, the "BTW Frida is pregnant to her pool boy" bit could be redacted, and the rest of the letter released. And if they were completely personal ("Happy Birthday!", or "Why did you get pissed at the Melbourne Cup?"), which again I doubt, then they did not belong in the PRO in the first place.
OMG. A leak! You have described the actual contents of the letter! Since you already know it and have revealed it via paraphrase, Australia and I see no harm in revealing the actual text:

Quote:
Hey Sugartits,

Happy Birthday! Frida's up the spout, it was the pool boy. It actually happened at the Melbourne Cup but you were too pissed to notice! How is Aunt Milly doing? Still loving that sweet, sweet heroin? Gosh, I miss the 60s.

Love Always,
Saucy Liz

PS: The individual in question re: your prior correspondence does not enjoy Our confidence. Get it sorted, or We shall cut you into small pieces and give you to New Zealand.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:25 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Whether it's ridiculous or not, she wrote with the justified belief that the writings would be treated as private. I think it would be wrong to retroactively falsify that belief. She made an informed decision about what to disclose. Nullifying that decision just because you're impatient to find out minor details of a historical event is kind of a dick move.

But the letters aren't in British control, they're in Australia. If Darat writes to you to say that I, Loss Leader, am a toad-faced quackerbilly, does he have any say in whether you show me the letter? Once he sent it, it was no longer his. It's yours. Unless you're his priest, spouse, or lawyer, you can do whatever you want with it.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:46 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
But the letters aren't in British control, they're in Australia. If Darat writes to you to say that I, Loss Leader, am a toad-faced quackerbilly, does he have any say in whether you show me the letter? Once he sent it, it was no longer his. It's yours. Unless your his priest, spouse, or lawyer, you can do whatever you want with it.
Darat does own copyright. So if you publish it in the local rag then he can sue you for copyright infringement.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:51 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
That's not what Vincini said, and he's smarter than Plato and Aristotle.

Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
But ultimately his logic was flawed.
So not a convincing argument.
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:55 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
But the letters aren't in British control, they're in Australia. If Darat writes to you to say that I, Loss Leader, am a toad-faced quackerbilly, does he have any say in whether you show me the letter? Once he sent it, it was no longer his. It's yours. Unless your his priest, spouse, or lawyer, you can do whatever you want with it.
I get confused on exactly what she is Queen of. Is she Queen of Australia? I know her face is on all the Canadian money, and the Boy Scouts pledge to do their duty to God and the Queen in Canada. If the same is true in Australia, it doesn't seem like the peasants ought to be looking through her mail.
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Old 29th May 2020, 10:39 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Darat does own copyright. So if you publish it in the local rag then he can sue you for copyright infringement.

Not if it's a matter of public interest (and that's decided by the public, not the author).
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Old 29th May 2020, 11:02 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Not if it's a matter of public interest (and that's decided by the public, not the author).
So...the public gets to read the letters and then decide if they should have actually allowed themselves to read them?

I suggest that the judiciary will decide if the public has access to the letters.
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"I've met Bob Dylan's bodyguards and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table, he's sadly mistaken." Townes Van Zandt
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