Govt holds second secret anti-piracy meeting


news The Federal Government has reportedly held a second closed door meeting held between the content and telecommunications industries to address the issue of illegal file sharing on the Internet through avenues such as BitTorrent.

The first meeting in the series held by the Attorney-General’s Department on 23 September last year, saw major Australian ISPs sit down with the representatives of the film, television and music industries with the aim of discussing a potential industry resolution to the issue of online copyright infringement. The issue has come to the fore over the past several years due to the high-profile court case on the matter ongoing between iiNet and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

The Financial Review reported late last week (full article here) that the Department had held a second meeting on the issue on Wednesday last week in Sydney. However, no details are yet available on what was discussed at the meeting.

The majority of the organisations who attended the September meeting were from content industry organisations, including the Asia-Pacific branch of the Motion Picture Association, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, Foxtel, the Australian Home Entertainment Distributor’s Association, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, News Limited, Music Industry Piracy Investigations, the Australian Recording Industry Association, the Interactive Gaming and Entertainment Association, the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Performing Right Association.

On the ISPs’ side, only Telstra, Optus, the Communications Alliance (which represents telcos), the Internet Industry Association and networking vendor Ericsson attended — although Telstra and Optus both sent a number of staff to the meeting. It is not clear whether iiNet attended. All up, about 25 industry representatives attended.

Delimiter today filed a Freedom of Information request with the Attorney-General’s Department seeking the following documents with respect to the new meeting held last week:

  • A list of all attendees at the meeting
  • Notes of any and all attendees at the meeting from any government agency
  • A copy of any documentation issued to attendees at the meeting
  • Any and all email correspondence related to the calling and conduct of the meeting
  • Any correspondence between the office of the Secretary of the Department and the Office of the Attorney-General discussing the meeting before or after it was held

At the last meeting on the issue, documents released under Freedom of Information laws revealed that the Attorney-General’s Department hoped to frame the discussion on the day through the lens of the so-called “six strikes” policy to tackling online copyright infringement agreed between the content and ISP industries in the US this year.

Under the deal, major US ISPs — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable agreed with the film and music industries to forward copyright infringement notices from content owners to alleged Internet pirates. After five or six of these notices, ISPs have agreed to institute certain punitive measures, including, for example, temporary reductions in Internet speeds, redirections to educational pages and pages to discuss the problem.

There is speculation in the industry that one potential resolution to the issue of online piracy could be the implementation of a so-called ‘strikes’ system, which would see internet users disconnected after content owners had complained a certain amount of times and provided evidence that a certain user was committing copyright infringement online. Such systems have already been implemented in countries such as New Zealand and France.

So far, the ISP industry has resisted implementing such a system in Australia, although a number of ISPs — such as Exetel, for example — have already voluntarily implemented a system whereby the receipt of a certain number of complaints will eventually lead to a request for a customer to churn to another ISP. AFACT has signalled to ISPs that it wants an “automated processing system” for copyright infringement notices to be distributed to ISP customers.

In November, many of Australia’s largest ISPs banded together behind a proposal which would see Australians issued with warning and educational notices after content holders provided evidence that they had breached their copyright online — and the door opened for ISPs to hand over user details to the content industry if they keep on pirating content online.


  1. And again the consumer is intentionally let out of the loop. This was initially concerning and worrying, now its just funny.

    On one hand we have a government who doesn’t want this issue being an election topic, on the other we have draconian copyright holders who would love the government to lock up every so called “infringer”.

    The gov is hoping to sweep any change udner the carpet all quiet like which is why it is pandering to the copyright holders behind closed doors, and those CR holders are salivating at the mouth at the notion they won’t have to actually update their outdated business models in Australia and instead have the government and ISP’s do all the work for them. In the meantime they will shaft Australian consumers more than ever.

    Gotta love the ignorance of everyone involved.

  2. this ongoing circus is out of hand.

    firstly, i am still in shock that Gillard bent over and dropped her pants to the US to sign ACTA, the same crazy bill that literally has millions of people around the world petitioning to not allow their countries to sign it. i wonder how gillard feels to be nothing but the wank hole of US bad policy.

    secondly, any strike system is useless, if it is allowed to to be put in place the first thing the serious hackers/torrent junkies will do is go sit in their cars outside Labor pollies houses and hack their WIFI, download/upload lots of copyright infringed material and let them explain in court why they should still be allowed internet access or be charged with copyright infringement. We will use their system against them!

    thirdly, educate yourselves people, use private trackers, use a VPN with a little bit of knowledge you can smile at bad US policy and give it your middle finger knowing that nothing they do/implement will have any effect on your file sharing.

    i do not condone copy right theft, but while the US media groups (MPAA, RIAA, etc) continue to try and use old out dated bully tactics i will continue to give the a hearty F%CK YOU and download every TV show and movie ever released AND share it. If they want to move to a feasible/fair distribution model i will happily stop my downloading and get on board……lets just keep dreaming about that one.

    • Hear hear!

      “secondly, any strike system is useless, if it is allowed to to be put in place the first thing the serious hackers/torrent junkies will do is go sit in their cars outside Labor pollies houses and hack their WIFI, download/upload lots of copyright infringed material and let them explain in court why they should still be allowed internet access or be charged with copyright infringement. We will use their system against them!”

      That is completely devious and hilarious. I love it :)

      While Australia continues to get shafted with the lack of legal ways to access new shows in high definition, at the same time that they air in the USA, I will continue to pirate them. It’s as simple as that.

      If we had had equivalent of Hulu and Netflix here, I would happily pay for content. Until that time I will continue to torrent. As Adam pointed out the “six strike” law would be so easy to circumnavigate that it’s completely pointless.

      War on piracy is about as effective as the war on drugs. While there is demand there will always be supply. You can make life more difficult for offenders, but you will never stop them.

  3. [i]While Australia continues to get shafted with the lack of legal ways to access new shows in high definition, at the same time that they air in the USA, I will continue to pirate them. It’s as simple as that.[/i]

    In any other industry, that would be called demand, and it would be met with supply.

  4. Hypothetical

    1)How much Australian GDP is in the entertainment industry?
    2)How much American GDP is is in the entertainment industry?
    3)How much Australian GDP is gained by piracy in the tech industry?
    4)How much Chinese GDP is gained by piracy?

    At a guess I would say 3>1

    Now driving down piracy rates with a stick with provide an alternative service will drive down 3, 4 and drive up 1 and 2 if there is a lack of decent alternative then the amount that 1 is driven up is more negate by the loses in 3. So that would give you a policy that actually reduces Australian and Chinese GDP to boost the Yanks.

    Now doing nothing while encouraging real alternatives (itunes in the movie the space) would increase GDP.

    Forgeting moral and legal issues why is our government taking an action that only seems to only benefit the yanks while having a negative effect on Australia and as we keep getting told the important trading partner china.

    Unrelated to the above
    Now for a heads up advertisers, in the last week I’ve watched about 10 hours of TV(I know not a lot) all of it web streamed I saw a total of two different ads and I was watching an ad ~every 15mins at the start of the streams. I didn’t might the ads but some variety would be good, well I now know what brand of toilet paper to buy and next time I need his and hers personal lubricant webvertising(I should trademark this) has got me covered.

  5. Personally, I’m in favour of a one-strike system. As in, if any ISP degrades my service at the behest of a third party for any reason, I will cancel my account and get a better ISP. Note to self: consider long contract periods to be a poison pill in future.

  6. Lets all give the free trade agreement a big group hug.

    Copyright protection for 70 years after the artist’s death is there to support the artist! His/her corpse has a lot of blow flies to support. You people are disgusting!


    (why is it a song gets better protection than a prescription medication?)

    • Because it is more important to get the medicine out of the high-price patented brands and into the cheaper generic medicine, than it is to get a book into the public domain. Patent protection is a tradeoff between providing enough incentive for research, vs providing the benefits of technology for the broader community. Clearly the drug companies are making money, so there’s no justification for offering them further incentive.

      Mind you, there’s absolutely no shortage of bands out there banging out pop songs, so very difficult to see justification for the extra incentive of extending Copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years (and on to 100 years).

  7. The power of the corporate lobbies needs to be curbed and their voices muted. The people must be heard. At a minimum, copyright duration urgently needs to be pushed back and reformulated to eliminate the cause of orphaned works. Incredibly, our political representatives give the lobbyists the focus of their attention, then rush through legislation such that there is little time for debate. The lobbyists have no need of political advocates, and no business being at the head of the debating table. They are more than capable of presenting their case directly to the people. Legislation crafted to respect the will of the majority will garner their respect and consequently, will be easier to enforce. See the full text at WhyNotAskMe dot org

  8. I would say that Australian ISPs are way too eager to do IFPIs work free of charge (read: all Internet customers pay). What is needed is a new entrant on the broadband market; an ISP that has as a core principal/business case not to submit to IFPIs pressure to by-pass the legal system, but to fight for the Internet customers rights to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

    • Until now I thought that was iiNet… so sad to be wrong.

      I’ll also join the throng of people who have been waiting for a legal alternative to torrents (been waiting for years personally).

  9. This is pathetic. Europe is in an uproar over the ACTA protests, while the AFACT et al continue to do business as usual here. You can be certain they wouldn’t have dared try this if we had even half the turmoil that’s going on in Europe.

  10. Only the entertainment industry is to blame because who wants to actually pay for the crap they produce anyway now days?.

  11. I think the one mega thing that annoys me is the lack of legal alternatives in this country. I mean, I just spent 2 months in Canada and they pay $8 per month for unlimited Netflix movies. Delivery? Internet… The same convenient method we all want.

    I’m not at all surprised what our government is doing, I mean, when have they ever been transparent when it comes to issues that effect our freedom of expression privacy? I mean, they are looking to change laws for a private company, even then, a foreign private company. Our interests are not being considered in these discussions, and we have to rely on our ISPs to stay strong. In the end, it just annoys me how much movie companies pay to litigate, when they could have spent a fraction a few years ago to make a system that will enable us to watch these things legally. It’s frustrating to no end!

    • Well said.

      Unfortunately this is an all too common situation. Governments across the world pandering to small, rich minorities who yell the loudest. It’s a similar situation with the ACL and Conroy’s Internet filter, when the vast majority of people are against it. And of course another obvious example is the fact that the overwhelming majority of Australians support the introduction of an R rating for video games, yet we still don’t have one thanks to, you guessed it, the ACL.

      Then of course we have people like Gina Rinehart who is rich enough to just buy up the media when she doesn’t like what’s being said. And the fact that powerful mining companies like the ones she controls, have brainwashed ordinary Australians into thinking a mining tax will destroy their industry, while these magnates continue to grow filthy rich off our resources.

      Repeat the exact same formula above with the Hotel association and their scare campaign which successfully shot down Wilkie’s agreed-upon gambling reform measures.

      I could go on about refuges next but you get the point.

      I used to be a Labor supporter, but Gillard’s swing to the right, and her continuous bowing to pressure from small vested interests, has left me completely pissed off and disillusioned.

      The problem is the alternative to a labor/Greens alliance is so backward and archaic that I’m still voting Labor anyway. But only because they are just barely the lesser of two evils. When it comes to erosion of civil liberties and pandering to vocal minorities, the LNP would make Gillard look like a princess in comparison.

      • Indeed well replied. There are a number of things that I am unhappy with, particularly, it just seems wrong that a government would actually the consider the interests of a foreign company over the interests of their own people. After all, if they encouraged the movie studios to introduce a service like Netflix for Aussies, they would be able to get some sort of money via tax. The thing that really peeves me off is that all of this is just because they don’t UNDERSTAND the problem or how to fix it. I mean, if I want to be an IT teacher, I would have to get an education degree, and a second degree in the field that I teach (such as IT). The problem we have at the moment is that we literally just have a bunch of “randoms” when it comes to ministers and their fields. If they truly understood what they were trying to push, they would actually know that it was pointless. Filters… they don’t work (and the Aussie one was going to be a modified piece of software that was supposed to be used for a school, not a nation), and these new methods won’t work either, because it’s NOT TREATING THE ACTUAL PROBLEM, just the symptoms!

        If only there was a “None of the above” tick box on the ballet papers!

  12. I’m certain the one thing not being discussed is the copy right holders making their content legally accessible at a fair price. That they will never do while they struggle to support their outdated business model and cry poor.

  13. The ALP has an atrocious record on the erosion of our liberties. That is why I do not vote for them.

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