Date confirmed for further copyright talks

A sixth round of talks will be held to discuss copyright policing in Australia

The Attorney-General’s department has confirmed another round of talks about copyright policing will be held 31 August.

A total of five meetings have so far taken place, which the Attorney-General's department has been facilitating. Roundtables have previously been held in September, November and December last year, and February and June this year.

The talks have centred around how copyright in the digital environment should be policed, who should police it and who should pay for it.

The most recent round of discussions included representatives from content owners, ISPs and consumer interest groups.

Copyright in the digital age: Australia, ACTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

“There was emerging agreement around the broad scope of an industry-based agreement, including a notice scheme, with particular focus on [the] education and protection of consumer interests,” a spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s department told Computerworld Australia.

“Participants agreed to continue discussions to work through the details of the scheme.

“Participants also recognised that there is more work to be done to resolve key issues such as costs.”

The department confirmed representatives from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, Australian Content Industries Group, Communications Alliance, Internet Industry Association, Internet Society of Australia and Australian Communications Consumer Action Network would all be present at the next round of talks.

ISPs have attended previous discussions, including Steve Dalby, chief regulatory officer at iiNet. He previously told Computerworld Australia the talks had reached a stalemate after the last round of talks in June.

“We think that the costs of operating whatever [that policing] process might look like ought to fall to the people that will benefit from the process and whose initiative it is, and that’s really the rights holders, whether they be film, TV, publishing, software or music [organisations],” Dalby said.

However, rights holders have consistently stated they do not want to fund the costs involved with policing copyright infringers, he said.

“From my perspective, I just wonder what they would need to do to alter that point-of-view that somebody else should pay to protect their rights,” Dalby said.

Despite five meetings already being held and no firm decision being made on the issue, the Attorney-General’s department said the roundtable discussions have so far been constructive.

“At the last roundtable meeting, participants agreed to continue discussions to work through the details of a possible scheme,” a departmental spokesperson said.

“The department will continue to host roundtable discussions while the parties remain engaged and the constructive dialogue continues.

“The government will look closely at the outcomes of industry discussions before considering other options.”

Copyright is undergoing considerable debate in Australia at the moment. The Australian Law Reform Commission recently announced it was seeking public comment on an issues paper examining whether exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act and whether they have kept pace with changing technology.

The ALRC is seeking comment on several issues, such as time shifting exceptions and whether consumers should be allowed to record programs from online platforms.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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