Rudd non-committal on copyright law change chances

Prime Minister deflects copyright question on ABC's Q&A program

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has shied away from committing to legislative change to copyright enforcement in the wake of the AFACT v iiNet decision at the Federal Court of Australia last week.

In a move welcomed by the ISP industry, Justice Cowdroy, dismissed a case by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) against iiNet, finding the ISP had not facilitated copyright infringement by its customers.

After the decision some commentators suggested there could be legislative reform put in place to strengthen copyright enforcement.

On the ABC's <I>Q&A program</I> last night, a special youth episode, Rudd, philosophised over intellectual copyright and the rights of artists to own their property.

The prime minister's comments came in response to a question from the audience: "It’s so easy to download music and movies from the internet and difficult to determine which sites are legitimate, what is your government’s position on the balance between young people’s desire to access affordable entertainment, against musicians desire to protect their creative output?"

"I can't say 'here is a dividing line up the middle," Rudd said.

"My son does this himself, I hope lawfully.

"Getting this balance right is important. I am not aware that we have current changes in mind.

"I'll read the decision of the court and see what they have to say. But secondly, look this is an open culture…if the laws are through the courts been interpreted in a particular way…then we'll have a look at the decision and see what we can do. But I don't want to frankly make an announcement on any policy."

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content rights holders should jointly formulate a code.

"I would hope to encourage the ISPs and the movie industries to sit down and try and come up with a code of conduct, and let’s see where that goes before we start leaping off down the path," Conroy told ABC's Hungry Beast.

"The problem in Australia today is that there is no agreement, there is no discussion, there is no dialogue and people resort to court.

"I have been trying for two years to encourage dialogue."

The Western Australia Internet Association said the iiNet win has brought certainty to consumers and industry and has implied that "the right of families to access the Internet" is protected.

West Australian Networks CEO Kevin Emery said the case was a victory for the Internet Industry.

"Anything that interferes with the transmission of data compromises the ability for an ISP to deliver maximum speed and reliability to consumers," Emergy said in a written statement.

The organisation said law enforcement should target individual users who breach copyright.

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