Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions

I have been reading with interest the report released last week by the Australian Government titled ‘Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions’.

Interestingly the Government appears to have considered the lobbying of the content industry in relation to a three strikes policy but does not openly or whole heartedly embrace this as an option. Instead there is acknowledgement that many from the internet industry as well as members of the public consider this to be an unworkable and unnecessary solution:

“A number of submissions received during the consultation phase for the development of this paper argued that a role for Government exists in addressing the apparent popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing of music and movies, without the necessary permissions of the relevant copyright owners. File-sharing is cited by the content industry as a barrier to further investment in sustainable and innovative content initiatives in Australia.

One solution proposed by copyright owners is a “three strikes” or “graduated response” proposal under which copyright owners would work together with ISPs to identify the ISP’s customers who are suspected of unauthorised file sharing and the ISP would then send a notice on behalf of the copyright owner to that customer advising of this allegation. After multiple notices, a series of escalated steps could be taken with respect to the customer’s account.

Several submissions were received which opposed this proposal for reasons including the lack of judicial oversight of administering sanctions based on private allegations, the lack of public transparency about the process and concern over consumer rights.

The Government recognises a public policy interest in the resolution of this issue. On the one hand, the Australia economy benefits from a sustainable content industry and from a general respect for legal rights. On the other hand, issues relating to due process and consumer privacy are important.

The Government is currently working with representatives of both copyright owners and the Internet industry in an effort to reach an industry-led consensus on an effective solution to this issue.”
[at pg 38]

Indeed a recent survey conducted by itnews shows that only 1% of 1411 respondents think that the Australian Government should introduce a 3 strikes policy; 4% consider a 3 strikes policy to be preferable to individual file sharing lawsuits, while 95% believe that it is not the role of ISPs to police the internet.

The report is available here and the Government is asking for members of the public to contribute to the discussion on the policy direction Australia should take and case studies which can be used as further examples (don’t use the html version cos half the pages appear to be down).

I urge all those interested in helping artists and ensuring that we are able to realise the true potential of the internet by sharing our culture to make a submission. Submissions can be made:

By email:

Snail mail:
Assistant Secretary, Digital Economy and Convergence Branch
Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
GPO Box 2154

Further Reading
itnews, Conroy vows to tackle illegal file sharing (15 July 2009) <,conroy-vows-to-tackle-illegal-file-sharing.aspx> at 22 July 2009

ZeroPaid, Aussie Govt Wants “Appropriate Solution” for Illegal P2P (20 July 2009) <> at 22 July 2009

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