Media laws dying for digital update

Do Australia's media laws need updating for the age of digital convergence? Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy thinks so. In his recent keynote address to the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) he said that a re-elected Labor government would conduct a complete review.

Do Australia's media laws need updating for the age of digital convergence? Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy thinks so. In his recent keynote address to the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) he said that a re-elected Labor government would conduct a complete review.

In Patch Monday this week Peter Black, who teaches internet law at the Queensland University of Technology, explains what such a review would mean. There are more questions than answers.

With every computer and smartphone a potential internet broadcasting station, would the government need to abandon the kind of regulation it has traditionally imposed on broadcast TV? Or do vertically-integrated markets such as Apple's iTunes Store and the closed iPad platform mean that governments could enforce content regulation in media player hardware? After all, digital TV receivers sold in Australia will soon be required to contain parental locks.

And if the review should happen, what would this mean for internet content producers — a category that includes everyone with a website or, indeed, an account on a social media site?

Patch Monday also includes Stilgherrian's random look at some of the week's IT news headlines, along with Black's comments on last week's Federal Court appeal by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft against the iiNet copyright verdict and the Coalition's announcement that it will oppose the government's internet filter plans.

To leave an audio comment for Patch Monday, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 22 minutes, 25 seconds.

Next week's Patch Monday will focus on the Federal Election and the major parties' policies for IT and the internet.

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