On February 8th, representatives of Australia's ISPs, film, TV and music industries including the Federal Attorney-General's department gathered to discuss the 'issue' of copyright infringement for a second time. The first meeting was held in September, in similar hush-hush circumstances that prevented the public taking part in the discussions.
Back in February, news site Delimiter filed a request under the Freedom of Information laws to get hold of information concerning :
A list of all attendees at the meeting
Notes of any and all attendees at the meeting from any government agency
A copy of any documentation issued to attendees at the meeting
Any and all email correspondence related to the calling and conduct of the meeting
Any correspondence between the office of the Secretary of the Department and the Office of the Attorney-General discussing the meeting before or after it was held
Whilst the Attorney-General's Department did respond, a significant portion of the information has been censored out. Entire pages of the meetings agenda have been marked as 'redacted', leaving a lot to the imagination, and almost nothing of substance. Delimiter has provided a copy of the censored documents, which can be found here.
Section 47C of the Freedom of Information Act was used to withhold information in the released documentation. This section allows conditional exemption of a document if it would disclose deliberative matter relating to "advice or recommendation obtained, prepared or recorded" during "deliberative processes" involved in government (to paraphrase overloaded legalese). Section 47F was also used to censor the names of individuals who participated.
Jane Purcell, an AGD senior legal officer, responded to concerns over the use of section 47C with the statements:
“The documents which I have decided to exempt consist of information about proposed industry solutions to the issue of online copyright infringement. At this stage of the process, discussions are still taking place; discussions which involve various stakeholders with competing interests. It is worth noting that these discussions have not been completed.”
“I have decided that the contents of the exempt documents comprise material recording the substance of consultation and deliberation that has taken place in the course of, and for the purposes of, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of this department. I have therefore decided that the documents are ‘conditionally exempt’ under subsection 47C of the Act.”
Delimiter notes that despite the use of sections 47C and 47F, information must be released if it is of public interest to do so. Jane Purcell decided that the documents were not of public interest, since the disclosure of documents would "prejudice, hamper and impede those negotiations to an unacceptable degree" and that it would "in my view, be contrary to the interests of good government — which would, in turn, be contrary to the public interest."
Concerns have been put forward about the lack of representation of content creators and the end users, potentially making discussions highly biased toward licence holders.
Why hide behind walls? Why discuss piracy at all?
Piracy is an issue for the media industry because it forces them to uptake modern business models, and convenient consumer focused services. It is vital that they fight pirates in order to maintain archaic inconvenient methods of acquiring their copyrighted material, filled with unskippable content and veiled threats to potential pirates and legit users alike.
It'll be a glorious day when they discover that convenience and quality is a service people are willing to pay for - perhaps they should take a look at Steam for some inspiration.
via Delimiter and forum member mark84.