Second Anti-Piracy Meeting Held in Secret Has the Media Guessing

The issue of illegal file sharing on the Internet through avenues such as BitTorrent has brought together the content and telecommunication industries for a second closed door meeting under the supervision of the Federal Government.

The object of the first meeting in the series, held by the Attorney-General’s Department on 23 September last year, was to encourage the interlocutors – several major American ISPs and representatives of the film, television and music industries – to come up with a viable solution on the issue of online copyright infringement.

According to The Financial Review, the Department had held a second meeting on the issue on Wednesday last week in Sydney. However, the topics discussed at the meeting have yet to be communicated to the press.

The majority of the organizations who took part at the September meeting were from content industry organizations, including the Asia-Pacific branch of the Motion Picture Association, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, Foxtel, the Australian Home Entertainment Distributor’s Association, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, News Limited, Music Industry Piracy Investigations, the Australian Recording Industry Association, the Interactive Gaming and Entertainment Association, the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Performing Right Association.

On behalf of the ISPs’ only Telstra, Optus, the Communications Alliance (which represents telcos), the Internet Industry Association and networking vendor Ericsson attended, adding up to a total of 25 industry representatives. It is still unclear whether iiNet showed up.

Delimiter today filed a Freedom of Information request with the Attorney-General’s Department inquiring the details behind the new meeting held last week, from the total number of attendees to the nature of the documentation issued at the meeting.

The paper trail from the last meeting on the issue points to an attempted by the Attorney-General’s Department to conceal the discussion on the day under the guise of the so-called “six strikes” policy aimed at bringing down online copyright infringement established between the content and ISP industries in the US this year.

The agreement had major US ISPs – including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable forward copyright infringement notices from content owners to alleged Internet pirates. After a number of such notices, ISPs have acceded to enforce punitive measures, for example, temporary reductions in Internet speeds or redirections to different pages.

Already in effect in countries such as New Zealand and France, the so-called “strikes” system has been presented as a potential solution to the issue of online piracy, one that would see blacklisted internet users disconnected upon proof of copyright infringement online.

So far, the ISP industry has been reluctant to adopt such a system in Australia. However, a number of ISPs (Exetel being one of them) have already implemented a system where one provider is entitled to redirect customers to another ISP upon receipt of a certain number of complaints.

In November, many of Australia’s prominent ISPs showed their support towards a proposal that would see Australians issued with warning and educational notices following evidence of copyright infringement from the content industry. This opened the door for ISPs to disclose user details to content holders should the online piracy acts continue.

(via Delimiter)