Piracy Code of Practice – Practical or Pathetic?

Earlier this week, I touched on the court case between AFACT and iiNet and the precedent it sets for copyright law in Australia (subject to the appeals process which is yet to be formally invoked). Several days after the verdict, Senator Stephen Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) has made a public call for a “code of practice” between the film industry and ISPs.

In other parts of the world, there has been talk or actual implementation of a “three strikes and you’re out” rule (aka Anti-Counterfeting Trade Agreement or ACTA)  whereby repeat offenders are disconnected from the Internet. Unsurprisingly, the MPAA and the RIAA are on the advisory committee behind the ACTA which has been under negotiation since 2006. These two bodies are the attack dogs of the film and recording industries in the US and internationally. Specifically, the six primary members of the MPAA are also members of AFACT.

Really, one shouldn’t be surprised that governments around the world are being lobbied by these groups at any rate. It happens in virtually every other industry.

What is interesting is that Senator Conroy has effectively padded the ball away on this issue. Rather than make a commitment either way, he has put it back on AFACT and ISPs to try and work it out. Conroy also cited his attempts over two years to start a dialogue with little success.

Maybe I was under a rock when those prior attempts took place.

With the next Australian federal election occurring in the next twelve months, could there be an ulterior motive in making such a move on Conroy’s part? The lack of suggestion with regard to  legislative action in the short to medium term could be in the interest of hanging on to the votes of the younger population. Goodness knows there are enough technology issues on the radar (i.e. National Broadband Network and the proposed approach to Internet censorship) that could go sour.

It just seems odd that Australia is involved in negotiations on anti-counterfeiting which one would think would result in new or amended laws and yet the Australian Government has stood back from a precedent setting issue that has been getting a fair degree of publicity in the media.

In my opinion, this doesn’t add up and we can expect to see something after 2011 assuming the the Australian Labor Party hang on to power in the next election (which will probably happen if current opinion polls hold true).

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