While out shopping before Christmas I chanced across some WD MyBook 1TB external hard drives (AU$600 if you are interested). I had a look at what was printed on the box, it included the following:
“WD Anywhere Access ™: A simple and secure way to access and share data, pictures, music at home, in the office, and anywhere in the world – even when your local computer is off”
“With WD Anywhere Access you can: …
get files from home while at the office…
listen to music on your MyBook World Edition drive while you’re on vacation…
share pictures with your friends anywhere without uploading them to the web…”
I could not see any statement that indicated that music could not be shared as reported in the media (arguing about the mention of sharing pictures but not music would be a long bow to draw).
According to s 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act:
While this has a couple of elements, the main one we’re interested in is whether there is conduct which is misleading or deceptive. The box contains representations to the effect that the “Anywhere Access” software permits the sharing of music. News reports indicate that the Anywhere Access client substantially inhibits, if not prevents, the sharing of music.
In addition there are other prohibitions in section 53 (such as a prohibition on representing “that goods or services have … performance characteristics… uses or benefits they do not have“) which can carry pecuniary penalties in the event of breach.
Update (7 January): The TPA has very generous standing requirements. There is no need, for example to show damage (to anyone) to bring an action under s 52. A person concerned about potentially infringing conduct can bring an action or lodge a complaint with the ACCC.