Today's discussions with rights holders, which is being held in the hopes of finding a solution to online copyright infringement, will be "wasted breath", according to iiNet.
iiNet will today join Optus, Telstra, various content groups, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the Internet Society of Australia and the government in a closed-door meeting led by the Attorney-General's Department. It aims to develop an industry policy for dealing with copyright infringement. Despite the government hoping that such meetings will lead to a voluntary solution, iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has said that they will be "wasted breath".
"I don't need a crystal ball to tell you that the likely conclusion will be negligible change; as has been the situation since the 2005 Australia-US free trade agreement was signed," he wrote in a blog post this morning.
"Little, if anything at all, is to be gained by engaging with rights holders for a commercial solution."
The telco's representative group, the Communications Alliance, had proposed a model that would include sending warning notices to customers who are believed to have been downloading and sharing infringing content. iiNet secured a decisive High Court victory in April against the content lobby group known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), wherein it was found that even though iiNet had not passed on infringement notices from rights holders to customers, it had not authorised its customers' infringements. Following this victory, the internet service providers' (ISPs) proposal was off the table.
"We did get clear and total rejections of all proposals put to them by the telco industry to limit infringements, but, due to the events of the past seven years, those offers are no longer on the table," he said.
He said that AFACT will now seek for the government to change the law, rather than working towards an industry-led solution.
"[AFACT managing director Neil] Gane has made repeated calls for legislative change over time, and that's where AFACT's future efforts will focus on; not taking into account consumer demands. The attorney-general's departmental forum is not designed to contribute to such legislative change, and so I'm not expecting the process to generate any satisfaction for consumers or distributors," he said.
"A solution needs to be found, but as far as AFACT goes, you might as well be talking to a brick wall."
Today's meeting has already had its share of controversy. ACCAN was due to send its chairman Michael Fraser to the meeting with senior policy adviser Jonathan Gadir to represent consumers at the meeting, but has instead opted to send CEO Teresa Corbin in his place, following criticism of Fraser's conflict of interest — he is also the chairman of the Australian Copyright Council.