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  • Featured, News, Telecommunications - Written by on Monday, March 19, 2012 12:15 - 114 Comments

    Blackout: Govt piracy meeting completely censored

    news The Federal Government has declined to reveal almost any information about a second secret industry meeting held in February this year to address the issue of Internet piracy, using a variety of complex justifications to avoid releasing virtually any detail of the meeting under Freedom of Information laws.

    The closed door meeting, held on 8 February, saw major Australian ISPs sit down with the representatives of the film, television and music industries and the Federal Attorney-General’s Department, with the aim of discussing a potential industry resolution to the issue of online copyright infringement. The meeting is the fourth such meeting to be held, after a series of other meetings were held late last year under similar circumstances.

    The Attorney-General’s Department acknowledged in early February that another anti-piracy meeting had taken place. As we did with the first meeting in September, Delimiter subsequently filed a wide-ranging request for information about the meeting to be released under Freedom of Information laws, seeking details such as a list of attendees, notes taken by any government staff, a copy of documentation issued to attendees, email correspondence related to the calling and conduct of the meeting, and internal departmental correspondence regarding it.

    Late last week, the Attorney-General’s Department responded to that Freedom of Information request, providing a series of five documents. However, using a variety of justifications, the department has redacted almost all of the information previously contained in the documents — including 14 pages of notes taken by a departmental staffer at the event and other four pages of notes taken by a senior staffer from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s department.

    According to the documents (which are available to download in full here in compressed RAR format), the following organisations were invited to the February meeting: The Digital Entertainment Alliance of Australia (represented by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft), the Australian Content Industry Group (represented by Music Industry Piracy Investigations), the Communications Alliance, Telstra, iiNet and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, represented by first assistant secretary Richard Windeyer.

    The meeting was to be chaired by AGD secretary Roger Wilkins.

    However, the Attorney-General’s Department stated in its response to Delimiter’s FoI request that it “does not hold” a list of the attendees who actually attended the meeting. Furthermore, the department censored the names of the individuals invited to attend the meeting. also It completely redacted a document consisting of the agenda of the meeting, which had been distributed to those invited to attend.

    In a briefing issued to Attorney-General Nicola Roxon regarding the meeting, the department noted that it continued to prefer an industry-negotiated solution to the issue of Internet content piracy. However, the note added, former Attorney-General Robert McClelland had indicated that “the Government will consider other options if the industry is unable to reach an agreement”.

    In addition, the note added, a public communications plan regarding the talks was “not required”. “There has been media interest in the progress of these discussions, but information discussed will not be released publicly,” it stated.

    It had previously been believed that only two of the secret meetings — in February and September — had been held by the Attorney-General’s Department on the issue. However, the briefing note adds that other closed door meetings were held on 28 November last year, as well as on 19 December.

    Legalese
    The rationale which the overseeing Freedom of Information officer at the Attorney-General’s Department has given for not releasing information about the meetings is complex and multi-faceted. Principally, in its statement of reasons given for not releasing information, the department has relied on several sections of the Freedom of Information Act which allow government departments to exempt certain documents from being released under FoI requests.

    One of the main legal instruments used was section 47C of the FoI Act, which exempts material from being disclosed if it would disclose material which was involved in the deliberative or consultative processes of the government. AGD senior legal officer Jane Purcell wrote the following in her response to Delimiter’s FoI request about the use of 47C:

    “The documents which I have decided to exempt consist of information about proposed industry solutions to the issue of online copyright infringement. At this stage of the process, discussions are still taking place; discussions which involve various stakeholders with competing interests. It is worth noting that these discussions have not been completed.”

    “I have decided that the contents of the exempt documents comprise material recording the substance of consultation and deliberation that has taken place in the course of, and for the purposes of, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of this department. I have therefore decided that the documents are ‘conditionally exempt’ under subsection 47C of the Act.”

    The FoI Act still requires that such documents be released, unless to do so would be contrary to the public interest. However, Purcell noted that “the disclosure of these documents, in the absence of any solution or agreement, would be contrary to the public interest” — because the discussions are “at a very delicate, sensitive and important stage”.

    “Disclosure of the documents while the negotiations are still in process, would, in my view, prejudice, hamper and impede those negotiations to an unacceptable degree,” wrote Purcell. That would, in my view, be contrary to the interests of good government — which would, in turn, be contrary to the public interest.”

    The department also used section 47F of the FoI Act to block the release of the names of individuals involved in the process — even to the extent that one un-named public servant personally requested to have their name removed from the documents, “for personal reasons”. Again, that material would still have to be released if it was in the public interest. However, Purcell again blocked that idea. “The release of the material here in question would, in my view, be contrary to the public interest as I believe that it is firmly in the public interest to uphold the rights of individuals to their own privacy,” Purcell wrote.

    In addition, the department blocked the release of some information because its release might stop organisations involved in the discussions from contributing information to the Government in future.

    The decision by the Attorney-General’s Department this month to block almost all FoI attempts to obtain information about its secret anti-piracy hearings is not the first time the department has blocked information about the meetings. The department has consistently attempted to withhold information about the meetings from reaching the public domain (for examples, see the following articles — here, and here). In addition, it is not known when the next meeting will be held.

    Requests by at least one consumer group to attend the talks have been denied by the department, leading to Greens Communications Spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, to slam the secret meetings as “offensive”. “What I find the most offensive about that, is that they locked the people out of the room that actually matter,” Ludlam said in January. “All of the writers, the creative artists, the performance people, they’re not in there. The rights holders are in there. The end users, the consumers … us, are locked out of the room as well.”

    Ludlam said it was the “intermediaries” who were discussing the issue under the auspices of the Attorney-General’s Department, who had been told to come up with something that was “not too offensive” for their corporate interests. “They’ve locked out the producers and consumers. The model which will be introduced in Australia, when we get to hear about it, will probably be stuffed and offensive,” he added.

    Delimiter is currently investigating options for appealing the redaction of some portions of the department’s Freedom of Information release this week.

    Image credit: Attorney-General’s Dept, with slight editing. Opinion/analysis to follow separately.

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    114 Comments

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    1. Justin
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink |

      What’s contrary to the public interest is a Government subjugating their responsibilities to their constituents in order to kowtow to vested US Corporate interests.

    2. Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink |

      Great to see our government treating its bosses and the people it should be reporting to – us – like sh*t.

      • Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink |

        There definitely is a certain arrogance contained in the response of the Attorney-General’s Department to this issue.

        • Geo
          Posted 19/03/2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink |

          I don’t see it as arrogance from the part of the Attorney-General’s Department, because that denotes that they have much of a say in this. More like, they are very embarrassed that due to the one sided trade agreement between us and the USA, the latter gets to dictate what they want and our government gets to pretty much agree.

          If they show the public the extent of how much Australia is being walked all over and how much these laws will be skewed towards corporation and not at all even handed, there will be a lot to explain, which they simply can’t.

          • Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink |

            I don’t agree this is something which is occurring in reaction to any cross-jurisdictional requirements with the US Government. In fact, this appears to be an issue which has originated organically within the Attorney-General’s Department — with the office of the Secretary, Roger Wilkins. AGD doesn’t have to do this, and hasn’t been commanded to do it by the AG or the US. It just is doing it off its own bat.

            • Geo
              Posted 20/03/2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink |

              Wow… well that leaves me speechless that anyone would be doing this off their own accord without any major pressure!

    3. Glenn
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink |

      Good on you for trying anyway.

      • Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink |

        Cheers! I think these discussions should be held in the open and should involve consumer representatives. Anything less is a cop-out.

    4. Tailgator
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink |

      …. after a series of other meetings were late last year under similar circumstances.

      syntax ??

    5. Brendan
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink |

      Well, you are dealing with Attorneys, to a degree. So it’s not very surprising.

      Cloak-and-dagger is de rigueur for the Motion Picture and Music Industry execs.

      When typical legal avenues, which everyone else else would be expected to use, don’t lead to suitable outcomes, the goon-squads revert to courting the Attorney’s General for assistance in kneecapping.

      The only real issue is the choices said Industry stakeholders make; potential copyright infringement is a symptom of a greater concern, not a cause. A change to distribution models would stamp out a large percentage of personal-use potential infringement.

      People attempting to profit from it may still exist, however courts would be focused on those cases (rather than ridiculously inflated, punitive claims against people for tens of thousands of dollars for pinching a single copy of squeaky-voice Bieber’s latest effort).

    6. Arran
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink |

      Dont join Telsuck or IIborg

    7. Devries
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink |

      I don’t understand what the big deal is here.

      There are two commercial entities negotiating with each other over a long standing commercial dispute (it’s been 7+ years and numerous Federal Court cases since rights owners tried to negotiate a code of practice with the ISP industry about online piracy).

      One group is losing money to piracy (rights owners) and one is making money from piracy (ISPs).

      The Government has clearly said – if you can’t come to a negotiated agreement to resolve this long standing dispute, we’ll come in and change/make law. So they’re attempting to conciliate an outcome.

      If the Government wants to change the law, the proposed amendments will be consulted upon publicly and perhaps debated in Parliament. At this stage, legislative amendment has not been proposed.

      If the two warring parties (rights owners vs ISPs) want to come to a commercial agreement – that’s a business matter for them and their shareholders.

      Should consumers have a right to involve themselves in every commercial decision or just the decisions that may impinge upon their ability to unlawfully download movies?

      • Tony
        Posted 19/03/2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink |

        I’d love to hear how ISPs profit from piracy.

        • Devries
          Posted 19/03/2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink |

          volumetric pricing

          • SMEMatt
            Posted 19/03/2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink |

            How are they losing money when they don’t seem to want to provide the product their customers clearly want?

            • Devries
              Posted 19/03/2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink |

              um….”consumers” are unlawfully downloading the “product” free of charge (well, ISPs receive payment) to the extent that bittorrent traffic makes up 50%+ of all network traffic for commoditised ISPs.

              Although, I guess what you’re asking is, why don’t rights owners sell their property at prices unilaterally determined by consumers through every possible channel (unilaterally determined by the user) immediately and forever?

              One possible answer to that lengthy question is: the same reason consumers aren’t allowed to interfere with the business decisions made in your line of work. Although I’m guessing the difference is, for the products/service that you provide, where consumers don’t like the price you charge or the method you use to provide the provide the product/service – consumers can’t just rip them off in a consequence free environment.

              • SMEMatt
                Posted 19/03/2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink |

                In our industry IP gets ripped off all the time although we don’t try to sue our customers. A couple of bigcompanies have been shopping around and using the IP contained in the quotes to either use cheaper suppliers or in house process to get the result they are after. We compete with this by offering better delivery and a guarantee of quality. While in our industry there is very real competition something is lacking in this part of the entertainment industry.

                • Devries
                  Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink |

                  IP in an IT quote can hardly be compared with the IP comprised in the finished product the subject of dicussion here. And the ripping off of the IP apparently comprised in a quote (and I question whether a) copyright does actually subsist in your quotes and b) if it does, whether the use you have described actually requires the licence of the copyright owner) by one or a couple of entities can hardly be compared to massive scale of unlawful downloads that occur worldwide every second fo the day.

                  In any case, your example isn’t synonymous with the conundrun faced by rights owners whose works can be boiled down to binary code capable of transmission by way of the internet.

                  • Noddy
                    Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink |

                    They will argue til the cows come home about it being availability and the sellers fault, too high a price. I know from games development that providing easier, cheaper access to games just increases piracy. They will then argue that if the games were good people would pay. The biggest selling, best quality games get pirated the most.
                    Comes down to they are used to getting stuff free and want to keep getting it free. There will be those that pirate because it’s unavailable. the argument that availability reduces piracy in BS in my experience.

                    • Mike from East Malvern
                      Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink |

                      I don’t know what games you’re talking about.
                      On iOS (and to a lesser extend Android), stacks of new (and existing) games developers are making fortunes at much smaller price points than are available on existing consoles and PCs. Users are lapping it up.
                      Many games including several very large MMORPGS have adopted variations of the freemium model to great effect. Often resulting in increased revenues.

                      Most of the old media believe they have an eternal right to live in a sheltered workshop. Recently, they have taken to lobbying for laws that not only extend the term of copyright but expand its coverage at the detriment of the public domain.

                      When the majority of the population are committing a “crime”, then its not criminality. Its a revolution. The free market should be Darwinian. Companies must adapt or die. Companies that can’t evolve die, and the vacuum is filled by new, quick and smart players who learn to leverage the new reality rather than fighting it. The analogy of the old media to “dinosaurs” is very apt.

                      • Noddy
                        Posted 19/03/2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink |

                        “On iOS (and to a lesser extend Android), stacks of new (and existing) games developers are making fortunes at much smaller price points than are available on existing consoles and PCs. Users are lapping it up.”
                        Yep, they are one of the few segments making money now. Many of the studios producing bigger titles have or are going broke.
                        “Many games including several very large MMORPGS have adopted variations of the freemium model to great effect. Often resulting in increased revenues.”
                        Yes, they are making more money with micro transactions on free games than paid ones. It only works for certain game types. Personally I hate the begging of freemium games and would rather buy it. Not an option though.
                        “Most of the old media believe they have an eternal right to live in a sheltered workshop. Recently, they have taken to lobbying for laws that not only extend the term of copyright but expand its coverage at the detriment of the public domain.”
                        Not really relevant to the games industry, they usually let you have their games for free after a certain period. Yes, Disney suck.
                        “When the majority of the population are committing a “crime”, then its not criminality. Its a revolution. The free market should be Darwinian. Companies must adapt or die. Companies that can’t evolve die, and the vacuum is filled by new, quick and smart players who learn to leverage the new reality rather than fighting it. The analogy of the old media to “dinosaurs” is very apt.”
                        They can adapt in multiple ways, having stricter more enforcable laws is one of them is it not?

                  • SMEMatt
                    Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink |

                    I do IT work, however the industry I’m in is not IT, it is related to entertainment industry and these companies so intent on defend their copyright are the same ones known to been seeking quotes as a method of getting creative IP. Creative IP form a significant part or our quotations, there are even companies that exist in our industry whose main product is this creative IP, implementing through other companies.

                    We compete by making sure we can deliver that IP better our clients and competitors, we don’t sue our clients although often our contracts would allow just that.

                    ATM the film industry is losing control of their IP not because it is easy to copy but because they don’t want to offer the service. Other have stepped in and offered that service rightly or wrongly using the film industries IP.

              • Brendan
                Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink |

                “um….”consumers” are unlawfully downloading the “product” free of charge (well, ISPs receive payment) to the extent that bittorrent traffic makes up 50%+ of all network traffic for commoditised ISPs.”

                Ever stopped to contemplate what would happen if the industry offered content across all markets, simultaneously, at commoditised prices?

                No, can’t do that. Have to protect the ‘exclusive’ models, distribution rights, staggered release dates and other entirely artificial constructs designed to extract maximum return, at the expense of the consumer.

                The Industry is it’s own worst enemy; demonising the consumer is simply a symptom of a greater problem.

                • Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink |

                  “The Industry is it’s own worst enemy; demonising the consumer is simply a symptom of a greater problem.”

                  +1

                  • Noddy
                    Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink |

                    Renai, I am sure, as you seem to be an honest, moral person and wanted something and it was available you would pay for it. I don’t think you are the majority however. The games industry has made games cheaper and readily available using platforms such as steam. End result, reduced sales and higher piracy. A large portion of the top pirated games are steam games available at half the price of a store bought copy.
                    I am sorry not everyone can be honest. Games would be even cheaper. I can’t see why movies or TV series would be any different. I have seen a lot of TV series available for download at 20-30 dollars a series but the torrents are still the number one spot to get them.

                    • Bob
                      Posted 19/03/2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink |

                      Except that all those artificial constructs exist in steam as well. Games in Australia are often twice the price that they are in the US. It’s a digital game, there is absolutely no reason why it should cost more other than to increase the profits of the companies that produce them.

                      The other thing to note though is that sales platforms like steam are going great. Steam is extremely profitable. People who pirate games available on steam would be unlikely to buy the game had they no other option anyway, that hardly constitutes a lost sale.

                      Media companies can’t employ price tactics like Brendan was talking about and then complain when people get sick of it. Most people are a lot more honest than those media companies, all people want is a reasonably priced way of getting the content they want. For the most part in Australia (with the exception of survives like steam) you can’t do that.

                      • Noddy
                        Posted 19/03/2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink |

                        Bugger, had posted a long response but Delimiter seems to be cactus at the moment, maybe slash dotted.
                        I’ve worked in games dev for 20 years, the publishers sell to Australia at the same price, the distributors in Australia make a killing. If a game is on the shelf and on Steam Australian distributors set the Steam price.they won’t handle your game otherwise. These distributors are not owned by the publishers, they are Australian companies. They block distribution of retailers buy direct or producers try and bypass them.

                    • Cheshire Cat
                      Posted 26/03/2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink |

                      Except Gabe Newell says you’re full of crap. He doesn’t see piracy as a problem for steam.

                    • Cheshire Cat
                      Posted 26/03/2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink |

                      Except Gabe Newell says you’re full of crap. He doesn’t see piracy as a problem for steam. I’m pretty sure if the guys in charge don’t agree with you that you aren’t on a winner here (and then there’s the steam sales that see massive increases in overall revenue)

                    • Cheshire Cat
                      Posted 26/03/2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink |

                      Except Gabe Newell doesn’t agree with you. He doesn’t see piracy as a problem for steam. I’m pretty sure if the guys in charge don’t agree with you that you aren’t on a winner here (and then there’s the steam sales that see massive increases in overall revenue)

                • Noddy
                  Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink |

                  I don’t know about movies but what happens with games is piracy increases and sales drop.

                  Not saying you wouldn’t buy it if it was more available, but you aren’t the total of the public.

                • Devries
                  Posted 20/03/2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink |

                  Brendan said: “Ever stopped to contemplate what would happen if the industry offered content across all markets, simultaneously, at commoditised prices? ….. Have to protect the ‘exclusive’ models, distribution rights, staggered release dates and other entirely artificial constructs designed to extract maximum return, at the expense of the consumer.”

                  So what you’re agitiating for is for the Government to step in and make laws designed to make rights owners make their product available in the way you would like and in a way where they’re not allowed to maximise their revenue streams?

                  Did you want to just stop at rights owner industries? Should the Government step in and make laws telling other industries how to price and distribute their products? I mean why stop at movie studios, game stuidos, book publishers and record companies?

                  • Brendan
                    Posted 20/03/2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink |

                    No.

                    Why would I expect the government to fix a business model that hasn’t changed since 1982?

                    What I expect, is, just like every other supplier and producer, the Industry moves in step with the market. A lot of other industries would die, outright, if they simply ignored the greater consumer.

                    I cannot, legally, today, buy a number of TV series produced in the US, without being “in the US”. That’s a problem. Further, I cannot access, legally, any number of shows produced at the same time the US does.

                    Or the UK, for UK content. If you cannot see how that presents a problem, in an age where the Internet makes borders vanish, then you’re just as deluded as the industry I can only assume you’re defending.

                    It’s “regionalising” and it’s just as common today in the Blu-ray format as it was for DVD. Assuming the titles are even available in not-US stores.

                    I have a healthy collection of DVD’s, CDs and Blu-ray. I buy content. But I have long since lost patience with an Industry that seems bent on resisting all change, for the greater good of the middle-man purse.

                    The Industry purportedly represents the good people making content, how about acting in their interests (not just your own) and trying to engage with the consumer, rather than demonise, blame and patronise.

                    • Devries
                      Posted 20/03/2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink |

                      While I agree that innovative service offerings enabling consumers to purchase content legitimately may turn a small portion of content ripper-offerors into customers, you’d have to have poo for brains if you thought that that strategy, at this stage, in isolation (and without an enforcement policy involving ISPs) will have any real impact in stemming the massive widescale levels of priacy that occurs across AU ISP networks every second of every day.

                      • AJ
                        Posted 20/03/2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink |

                        So do you have any evidence to support your claims?

                        Basically you are saying that everyone are dishonest liars at heart.

                        what a cynical pathetic point of view

                      • Devries
                        Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink |

                        … and what a wonderfully articulate post.

                        As for proof – how about the exponential growth of online piracy over the last 14 years that has occured in lieu of any action taken by ISPs to prevent it and despite the bringing to market of a range of legitimate content services?

                      • Shane
                        Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink |

                        Devries, you mention “how about the exponential growth of online piracy over the last 14 years”.

                        Would you care to provide an overlay of that line upon the likewise exponential growth of online connectivity over the last 14 years?

                        The industries want to have their slice of cake and eat ours too.

                      • Oz
                        Posted 20/03/2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink |

                        I think you might be underselling the power of a truly innovative offering as I believe a fairly large portion of “pirate activity” is undertaken because the current offerings aren’t what people want. Will it stop pirate activity all together ? no of course it wont, piracy is as old as prostitution, but give people a good quality, fit for their purpose offering at a reasonable price (consumer reasonable not gatekeeper/middle man reasonable) and I’m sure a lot would take it. I know I would.

                        I don’t believe using ISP’s as the police for this is ever going to work primarily because, at the moment’ it seems to work on a “simon says” basis with content gatekeepers pointing the finger and the consumer being pronounced guilty until innocent. When these come before a court it’s invariably very difficult for proof of guilt to be shown as has been seen numerous times (I don’t have specific numbers but I get that impression from reading many tech sites/articles about this subject).

                        “The Industry is it’s own worst enemy; demonising the consumer is simply a symptom of a greater problem.” was a comment made by Brenden earlier and I think is an excellent take on the issue. Yes it’s more complicated than that but if kept in mind by the entertainment industry it might actually lead to some real innovation.

                      • AJ
                        Posted 20/03/2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink |

                        what legitimate content would that be the content that is avaliable 3 years later than in the US

                        OR

                        The content which cost the same or more than a dvd

          • Angy
            Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink |

            It sounds logical, but I don’t know how much sense it really makes, because for a budget service provider, the difference between minimum and unlimited is obviously not proportional to the data limit and probably not proportional to the appropriate claims of lost sales. There’s a lot more difference between price points on a premium provider, but they’re clearly not selling shinier megabytes, they’re value-adding in customer service and other ways.

      • Big Deal
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink |

        The big deal is this:

        “Rights Holders” want the law changed so as they are able to take action against “pirates” with no need for court orders or any form of fair legal process at all.

        The worst part is that many of the changes to the law that have been proposed in the U.S. can easily be leveraged into other areas totally unrelated to “piracy” so as action can be taken against people, by the government or corporations, with no recourse to a fair legal process.

        My guess is the meetings are being kept secret because the government knows full well what kind of a sh*t storm would ensure if the Australian people read what “Rights Holders” were proposing.

      • Chris
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink |

        Sorry Devrie, nice try but…

        If it was a purely commercial practice agreement that was being discussed, then there would be no need to have the government take a chair at the table.

        The fact that the government is at the table, suggests that the government is being pressured by at least one of the participants to change the laws.

        We want to know what pressure is being applied, who is applying it, and is that pressure undermining the process and practice of fair government in the public interest, and not in the corporate interest.

    8. Scooton
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink |

      I’m wondering if the rights holders and the ISP’s can’t come to an agreement and the Government needs to step in to make a decision whether that decision making process will be more transparent.

      • Posted 19/03/2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink |

        You would hope it would be debated in parliament if it gets to that point.

    9. Oz
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink |

      I was going to comment saying that it seems lessons from the SOPA/PIPA furore weren’t learned but on the other hand, maybe they were :)

      As has been stated many time in the past, new laws are going to have much less of an impact than a change in business model from the entertainment industry would have. Techdirt has stories and many discussions on this subject (Renai – hope it’s OK that I mention another tech site)

    10. socrates
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink |

      The government (like any government) continues to contemptuously give us the mushroom treatment.

      And they wonder why we continue to get angry and regard them as the mushroom nutrient!

    11. terminal2k
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink |

      Hi Renai

      I’m of the understanding that the government charges a fee to “cover costs” for FOI requests like these. Are you able to say how much it costs you for this sort of thing?

      • Posted 19/03/2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink |

        New legislation recently passed means most if the fees for targeted FoI requests like this one are waived. But I still do pay occasional fees in the low hundreds for stuff.

    12. Paul Krueger
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink |

      Maybe they can discuss how extending the copyright to lifetime + 75 years drives innovation…

    13. jingo
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink |

      Kind of story I’d love to see 4 corners get their teeth into.

    14. Brendan
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink |

      Can we push for Scott Ludlam to table the notes / minutes in parliment?
      DrE

      • Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink |

        I did email Senator Ludlam about this issue today. I haven’t heard back from him yet. Trying to get the Greens to comment on Internet piracy issues has always been a bit hard, for some reason.

        • Shane
          Posted 19/03/2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink |

          Speaking of Ludlam’s quote in your article: the ultimate “rights holders” were not in fact in the room.

          The music, movie and software industries love to remind us that they’re just selling a license to use their product, not the product itself. Yet copyright is itself a license – a grant by the public to the artist, and a temporary one at that.

          The industries and the Attorney General all need to be reminded of this; that just because the former bought the rights to access our grant, they do not actually own it. We do. Any discussion about it is thus in the public interest to know, because we remain the true owners of all copyrighted works and their distribution must be to our ultimate benefit.

          In sum: the only “rights” the industries hold is a license. If they continue to abuse it, we will revoke it.

    15. bloggerhater
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink |

      I’m glad you all can blame us US Citizens for your own government gutting your civil liberties. Good job guys!!

      • Justin
        Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink |

        Who’s blaming US citizens?

        • kel
          Posted 19/03/2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink |

          Well..technically…sorta..US corporations ARE US citizens. Anyway, nobody here likes them either.

          What I see in this whole piracy business is the free market in action. Situations such as this shows the unseemly way that basic economic forces are doctored and controlled by people of power and wealth to maintain such. Same as a millennium ago, just more devious today.

          Customers are supposed to be the driving force behind products, prices, and services. Sadly nearly everyone has been indoctrinated into the idea that ‘rights holders’ have a right to profit. Customers are other businesses and people are merely consumers of the unfortunate flux of business. Maybe this will change, maybe not. As long as good people do what they can to make things right (whatever that is) things will turn out better.

      • tom
        Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink |

        very silly reply tbh! Anyone that does this does not understand what is truly going on. Actually 99% of people do not understand the true nature of what is happening and why it is happening.

      • Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink |

        This response doesn’t seem to make much sense …

        • tom
          Posted 19/03/2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink |

          only to those unable to think clearly.

    16. KT
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink |

      Its about time some of these companies change their business models. The copyright holders are luring themselves into false hope if they think any kind of negotiations with ISPs are going to stop piracy. Gabe Newell from Valve software (Steam) made a great point, the reason people pirate is because the pirates offer a better service that the companies holding the copyrights. You have to beat them at their own game, which Valve clearly seem to be doing. I would happily pay for a movie/track/game that isn’t crippled with DRM, unskipable corporate branding, the billion copyright warnings and not to mention installing hidden rootkits.

      • Noddy
        Posted 19/03/2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink |

        Gabe Newell is interested in one thing, getting companies to put games on Steam so he makes money. Steam games are some of the most pirated games around. Of course he makes money if there is piracy or not as he had no investment in the games development and just collects a cut of every game sold through Steam.

        • Posted 19/03/2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink |

          *cough* Steam is pretty much a sideshow for Valve. I think you’ll find their main activity is in making kickass games such as the Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress and Counterstrike series.

          • Noddy
            Posted 19/03/2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink |

            Yes, but they make aheap of money out of Steam. And the stuff he was quoting was Gabe talk about how Steam was the answer for piracy. He is the only one saying it.

          • Noddy
            Posted 19/03/2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink |

            Their are only a few answers to piracy that seem to work. None of them seem to be making content more available or cheaper. I am sure if they were as cheap as angry birds them they could do ok, but angry birds hasn’t earnt enough to pay for 10% of a major title. They can sell it cheap and make money because the games are cheap to make, they happened to be one of the few who made money. The average money earnt on mobile apps is $200 per title. Making money is more to do with marketing than anything else with mobile.

            OK, the things I have seen work. Advertising funded games. But this can only support cheap shitty titles like Zynger make. And the only way to make real money like they do is churn them out cheap like a sweat shop.

            Some premium games. Strike the right formula and have some addicts who keep paying and paying for the little extras you can make some money.

            Forget the PC and only release console titles. Many companies are doing this or at least releasing PC titles late or putting no effort into PC titles and just doing a cheap port from X360. The reason being is that even though their are more people playing PC games than the console equivalent. About double on things like a fps. PC games account for only 10% of sales. The difference? Some AAA titles have 10 to 1 piracy ratios. That’s 10 pirate copies per legit. Consoles only have 10-20% piracy. Call of duty, a FPS, virtually every FPS would prefer the PC version as mouse and keyboard are so much better to play with than joypad. 10% of sales were PC. X360 outsold it 4-5 times over. Number of people playing it? Way more on the PC. The guys were so disgusted they nearly didn’t do a PC version. They ended up doing it as a cheap console port. It wasn’t worth their while.

            • Noddy
              Posted 19/03/2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink |

              Oh, one option I forgot, but not one everyone can do. Have such huge hit titles that you can churn out the sequel to each year or so that you make money even with only 10-20% of your “customers” paying.

            • toby
              Posted 20/03/2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink |

              “Their are only a few answers to piracy that seem to work. None of them seem to be making content more available or cheaper. I am sure if they were as cheap as angry birds them they could do ok, but angry birds hasn’t earnt enough to pay for 10% of a major title. They can sell it cheap and make money because the games are cheap to make, they happened to be one of the few who made money. The average money earnt on mobile apps is $200 per title. Making money is more to do with marketing than anything else with mobile.”

              Angry birds had revenues of close to $100 million in 2011 more then it cost to develop world of warcraft.

              • Noddy
                Posted 20/03/2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink |

                Total retail revenue is not what the developer makes. If they ended up with 1/5th of that I’d be surprised. I would stick to mobile games if I were them though. Making one major console/PC title will eat ever cent of profit they earnt with angry birds and then if they aren’t one of the few who makes money they are broke like so many others. Much better to make many mobile games and hope they hit another winner. World of Warcraft would have maybe cost that initially, total development 100 million, no way. AAA games cost 10-30 million, add double that for advertising (sad i know, but the publisher covers this, not the developer). If the developer gets more than $10 a unit for AAA they are doing well. It means a couple of million in sales to break even. I think only about 5% of large titles do now days.

                • Justin
                  Posted 20/03/2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink |

                  Are the developers subsidiaries of the publisher? Because if they are it sounds like hollywood accounting all over again.

                  • Noddy
                    Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink |

                    Some times they are, some times they aren’t. I am not sure what you are saying here. The development studios cut of a game is typically about $10 a copy once they reach the point development advances are covered. The publisher sells it for about $35-40 a copy, They have to pay the developer, production, advertising and shipping. The retailer in the US sells it for $50-60. In Australia the distributor buys it for 35-40 sells it to EB, etc for 80 to the retailers, probably cheaper to places like Big W.

              • Noddy
                Posted 20/03/2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink |

                Sorry, I see why you were quoting the 100 mil, I said 10% of a major title. I didn’t realise angry birds had reached 100 mil, or 200 mil or 500 mil (articles can’t decide) last I saw it was at 19 mil on iOS and they were complaining that Android earnt them stuff all as Android customers rarely bought anything but waited for the app to be free.
                Anyway, talking about Angry Birds or Call of Duty or any other pinacle product isn’t realistic. You have to look at long term survival of companies. Hopefully the angry birds developers keep lean or that angry bird sequels or whatever they do in future sells as well, because if they grew off the back of one game they will need the income to keep going.

                • AJ
                  Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink |

                  Really android earns them less are you sure about that

                  http://news.softpedia.com/news/Angry-Birds-Makes-More-Money-from-the-Free-Android-Version-than-from-Paid-Ones-170596.shtml

                  They are earning $1million a month from android’s “free” version

                  • Noddy
                    Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink |

                    Ahh cool, they must have switch to an advertising model in the last year. Last time I spoke with them they were saying what cheap skates Android users were and that total sales were at $475 thousand gross.

                    • AJ
                      Posted 20/03/2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink |

                      Angry birds has never been a paid game on android except on the amazon store which is only avaliable in the USA

                    • AJ
                      Posted 20/03/2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink |

                      Also that kinda proves a point dosent it they make more money on android because the innovated and went free with ads rather than a traditional model.

                      If television companies offered internet content with targeted advertisements they could make a killing.

    17. John Styles
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink |

      Oh noddy…..
      You simply can’t play call of duty online without a legit copy.
      The groups who crack these things never supply cracked multiplayer, it would be pointless, because the game company can just patch it the next day…

      So the ones who pirated it and aren’t playing it online likely were never going to pay for it anyway.
      The difference in numbers between consoles and pc means nothing, because the way they obtain those numbers is shady at best, and downright deception at worst.

      When a game makes over a billion dollars inside a week of release and they cry “piracy is ruining us!” , i am afraid i have no tears for them.

    18. Noddy
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink |

      “You simply can’t play call of duty online without a legit copy.” You can play with friends with the LAN version. Did they drop LAN support from the latest few versions? Wouldn’t be surprised, everyone is to try and curb piracy.

      “So the ones who pirated it and aren’t playing it online likely were never going to pay for it anyway.
      The difference in numbers between consoles and pc means nothing, because the way they obtain those numbers is shady at best, and downright deception at worst.”
      So sales numbers are out by a factor of 10 hey? Sorry, don’t buy your argument there. they can be out because some count units sold through others units to retailers.

      “When a game makes over a billion dollars inside a week of release and they cry “piracy is ruining us!” , i am afraid i have no tears for them.”
      LOL, which game has made that? You’d have to sell 100 million copies to make that, the top 0.01% may but a top 5% game may sell a million on PC if lucky

      • Brendan
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink |

        Yes, games sales are hurting so very bad:

        $400 Million in 24 hours – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2060805/Call-Duty-Modern-Warfare-3-makes-400m-1st-24-hours-going-sale.html

        $775 Million in 5 days – http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/nov/18/modern-warfare-2-records-775m

        From the same second article:

        Top five highest grossing video games over five days
        1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 ($775m)
        2. Call of Duty: Black Ops ($650m)
        3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ($550m)
        4. Grand Theft Auto IV ($500m)
        5. Halo 3 ($300m, seven days)

        Those aren’t small figures. That represents actual people pay actual money.

        Finally:

        “Meanwhile, if we’re sticking with Call of Duty, sales for the entire series now stand at around $6bn, which is comparable to Hollywood’s biggest success stories.”

        So no, games never earn billions of dollars. Preposterous. You’re quite right.

        Sure, it’s not all sunshine and roses. But, please, trying to insinuate that game titles don’t rake in considerable sums is untruthful at best, obscenely understating at worst.

        • Noddy
          Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink |

          And the difference is, the movie studios see a large portion of those sales. Games developers see about 10% of them. Also of that $775 the developers would have seen $1 million from PC sales based on fact only 10% of their sales were on PC.
          It’s all very easy to list the highest selling games of all time and say, “See how much they earn” But not every game has that success.
          I guess by your arguments you should be able to pay for all the stuff anyway. You earn millions a year like the few richest people in the world right?

          • Brendan
            Posted 22/03/2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink |

            “And the difference is, the movie studios see a large portion of those sales. Games developers see about 10% of them.”

            And where does the rest of the sales go? Somewhere between the consumer and the developer?

            Same outcome, different ratio. People in “the middle” are gaining the lions share of the profit. Studio’s and distributors are still between the creative people, and the end consumer.

            Where the line is drawn, is a little irrelevant, given the same basic precept exists between the two.

    19. Goku Missile Crisis
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink |

      “The documents which I have decided to exempt consist of information about proposed industry solutions to the issue of online copyright infringement. At this stage of the process, discussions are still taking place; discussions which involve various stakeholders with competing interests. It is worth noting that these discussions have not been completed.”

      “I have decided that the contents of the exempt documents comprise material recording the substance of consultation and deliberation that has taken place in the course of, and for the purposes of, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of this department. I have therefore decided that the documents are ‘conditionally exempt’ under subsection 47C of the Act.”

      — Sir Humphrey Appelby

    20. Hemo_jr
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink |

      When did an informed public become the bane of democracy?

    21. John
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:58 am | Permalink |

      Well they have already taken your guns away, now they will take the rest of the things you care about.

    22. Adam
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink |

      “The documents which I have decided to exempt consist…” That is a judicial determination right there. No-one in the AGD has this power, in fact no-one in Australia has this power unless they are judge sitting in a Chapter III court.

    23. Brendan
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink |

      The reality is, the Industry is attempting to streamline the process of legally fining consumers without having to prove any wrong-doing in court. Because that is inefficient, and costly and requires guilt be proven.

      It’s more efficient to find a way to re-write laws to favour the middle-man, over either the content creator, or the end consumer. So that the Industry may fine a person tens of thousands of dollars, and have their internets revoked.

      Because this allows a business-model built to protect the middle-man to continue unimpinged.

    24. Woolfe
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink |

      Whether there is an issue with Piracy in this country or not, and whether it is the result of a failing business model, or a rapacious public is NOT THE ISSUE.

      The issue is that our government is currently holding secret meetings with 2 parties that have vested interest in a system that will affect every consumer and every internet user in Australia.
      Additionally they are specifically DENYING access to consumer and creative interests.
      AND when FOI requests are made, they are being denied.

      THIS IS THE ISSUE.

      There is no reason for this sort of thing to be behind closed doors.

    25. Bob
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink |

      Here’s what would happen:
      >agenda and notes released in full
      >internet hivemind assumes some brainstorming is OMG A FINAL AGREEMENT FOR THE GUNMINT TO DEPRIVE US OF OUR TORRENTZ
      >absolute embarrassment for the rest of us who care about this issue

      The redacting in this case is actually completely in line with standard practice.

      Also, I’ve seen more substantive journalism over at the Daily Telegraph. Usually Renai is quite good but there has been some awful stuff coming out of him in the last few weeks.

      • Myke
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink |

        Interests vary. I find it very interesting to know how far FoI extends in real life.

      • Woolfe
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink |

        Sorry Bob, but that doesn’t cut it. If their were consumer groups and Artist groups (not just “rightsholders” and “ISP’s”) then I’d agree with you. But this is not what is happening.

        You could ostensibly argue that the Govt represents the people. But that still leaves the actual Creative Artists themselves not involved. And this is bad because the Rightsholders are not representative of the artists.

      • Posted 20/03/2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink |

        hi Bob,

        “The redacting in this case is actually completely in line with standard practice.”

        Actually, I’m a veteran of quite a few FoI requests over the years, and I can assure you AGD is the most extreme in terms of redaction. I get much more transparent responses from virtually every other department.

        “Also, I’ve seen more substantive journalism over at the Daily Telegraph. Usually Renai is quite good but there has been some awful stuff coming out of him in the last few weeks.”

        Thanks for your unsubstantiated argument, which contains no evidence to back up your assertions. I have a complaints procedure for dealing with this kind of thing:

        http://gizmodo.com/5687692/you-write-bias-journalism-and-i-read-derp

        Alternatively I challenge you to highlight a media outlet in Australia which is doing a better job at technology journalism.

        Kind regards,

        Renai

        • Vnonymous
          Posted 20/03/2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink |

          >Alternatively I challenge you to highlight a media outlet in Australia which is doing a better job at technology journalism.

          Renai, this is bullshit. If somebody thinks you’re doing a bad job, “I bet you can’t find anyone better” is not a defence. That sort of playground level discourse cheapens the tech journalism field as a whole.

          • Posted 20/03/2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink |

            The technology journalism field has already cheapened itself ;)

            In all seriousness, I doubt that you guys could hold me to a higher standard than I hold myself. The problem, is, however, that I don’t have enough resources to meet that standard.

            • Anonymous
              Posted 24/03/2012 at 11:53 pm | Permalink |

              This is reasonable. It is hard to get enough resources to push these things. There are people who will assist in FOI applications for free and you can work with them. Talk to the law schools and other places where your readers are there’s more people to assist you.

    26. lspooner
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink |

      If you want an idea of the content of these private meetings. Watch where the major players go after 2-5 years. Most likely those same government officials, who are so concerned with the public interest, will be given lucrative executive positions in those media companies. Its how they do it in the US.

    27. Myke
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink |

      It wouldn’t be a bad thing for Australians to watch less American shows and less media in general.

      We’d still spend the same, just watch less. Appetites are curbed by an empty hip pocket.

      • Woolfe
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink |

        Indeed.

        It would also be nice to see some Australian content on the TV, that ISN’T a gameshow/current affairs program/reality tv program.

        Of course it costs too much in Aus so it ain’t going to happen.

        Damn our strong dollar, and lazy investors.

    28. Ivan
      Posted 20/03/2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink |

      Make a difference with your vote, don’t be a sheeple and vote via some outdated left versus right paradigm, as it doesn’t exist. Vote independent, so at least they can ask questions and unmask this sort of stuff in the senate!

      • Duke
        Posted 20/03/2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink |

        Indeed, and that is why I, for one, will be voting 1 – Assange if he stands for the Senate in my state…

    29. Scott Larson
      Posted 21/03/2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink |

      Its time to start getting organized, lets really see how many people we have that agrees these kinds of actions are not in the best interest of the public. Sing the Petition, make the pledge.
      http://www.change.org/petitions/no-more-attacks-on-file-sharing-culture-and-technologies-pledge

    30. Posted 21/03/2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink |

      “”it is firmly in the public interest to uphold the rights of individuals to their own privacy,” Purcell wrote.”

      Ha. So can we just have the IP address of the addtendants?

    31. Sean
      Posted 23/03/2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink |

      Another nail in labours coffin, they continue to use cloak and dagger tactics as if Australian’s cannot think for themselves. Well, laugh it up now because come election time, history will show the greatest ever landslide victory against a sitting parliament in Australia’s history.

      • Justin
        Posted 24/03/2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink |

        You’re kidding yourself if you think this is just a problem with Labor. ACTA doesn’t require any new legislation in Australia because of the FTA that Howard signed 10 years ago.




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