Broadband Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy’s calls for the ISP and movie industry to formulate a bilateral code of conduct does not address the root cause of copyright disputes, according to industry watchers.
Senator Conroy appeared on ABC’s Hungry Beast program to comment on the recent iiNet versus Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) copyright court case. Last week, the judge on the case, Justice Cowdroy, ruled in favour of the Perth-based ISP. AFACT, which represents a number of Hollywood studios, is expected to appeal.
The Broadband Minister said he made efforts to encourage discussions between the two industries for the past two years and urged both sides to form a code of practice rather than resort to legal means.
The Pirate Party, a group advocating decriminalisation of non-commercial file sharing, perceived Conroy’s comments as an ultimatum for the ISP and the movie industry to self-regulate or be slapped with legislation. While a code of conduct may sound reasonable in theory, underlying business model problems and persistent issues on both sides will make compiling one a near impossible task, Pirate Party spokesperson, Rodney Serkowski, said.
“I’m not even sure if it’s preferable for ISPs to enter into an agreement with the industry,” he said. “I’d be interested to know what a code of conduct involves and whether [it includes] termination of an Internet connection – which should not be able to occur without legal jurisdiction.”
An alternative to devising a mutual agreement was to overhaul copyright laws themselves and make them more representative of the digital paradigm, Serkowski said.
“Presently, the Copyright Act is insufficient to serve the digital economy and reforming the laws themselves is necessary then to tackle the underlying problem of the content industry’s approach to business models,” he claimed
Telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, also criticised current copyright laws and claimed Hollywood was still clinging on to dated intellectual property policies. He commended Senator Conroy’s efforts to bring the two warring industries together to sort out their differences but called for a sound business model to precede any code of practice.
“Based on the situation as is, [a code of conduct] is not going to work,” Budde said. “You need to know what you want to do before you put a code around it.
“The two will have to sit together to trying and organise a way to distribute the content that best serves the public.”
Ultimately, the movie industry will have to be the one that changes its business operations and embrace digital distribution methods, Budde claimed. While Hollywood bigwigs will certainly resist, he expected individual companies would rise up, similarly to what iTunes did with the music industry.
With an election year already underway, there is doubt over whether Senator Conroy will introduce new copyright legislation in the near future if a code of conduct does not materialise.
AFACT was unavailable for comment at the time of publication