World waiting for iiNet piracy trial: Conroy

World waiting for iiNet piracy trial: Conroy

Summary: People around the world are waiting for the result of the appeal of the landmark copyright case brought against iiNet, according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy speaking at an online retail forum today.


People around the world are waiting for the result of the appeal of the landmark copyright case brought against iiNet, according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy speaking at an online retail forum today.

Nick Sherry and Stephen Conroy

Small Business Minister Nick Sherry and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy (Credit:Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

The Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (AFACT) went after iiNet in 2008, claiming that it had authorised its users to breach copyright by providing them access to its network and failing to act when they allegedly down- or uploaded pirated content using the network. iiNet won the case, but AFACT appealed. That appeal is currently waiting for judgement.

AFACT yesterday published a report stating that piracy in Australia was costing the Australian film industry approximately $1.37 billion annually. The federation called for the government to act on implementing policy on piracy quickly, hoping that policy would be formed before the onset of the National Broadband Network.

Speaking to journalists at an online retail forum in Sydney today, Conroy said the government was keeping a close eye on the results of the iiNet case.

"I don't know when the judges are going to make a final ruling and there could be appeals to the full bench. The [Convergence] Review will discuss all of those issues but obviously everybody worldwide is waiting to see the outcome of that."

The government is conducting a Convergence Review which will examine the way the media and communications landscape is evolving as a result of technological advances.

Telstra had asked that piracy matters be left out of the review pending the final verdict on the iiNet case, but Conroy indicated that piracy would be on the table.

"One of the issues I'm sure that will be debated [in the convergence review] is piracy ... so I expect that will be a larger part review," he said. "We won't form any policy until after the convergence review is finished."

Too early to blame online for Borders demise

Although media commentary has blamed the online world for bricks-and-mortal book retailers Borders and Angus & Robertson being placed in administration, Conroy thought it was too early to say that the rise of online retailers such as the Book Depository was the driver for their fall.

"It's a tragedy that any company is going out of business and equally that people lose their jobs," he said. "I'm sure there are a whole variety of complex reasons why companies go out of business and this may be a factor, it may be an influence on this but it's too early at this stage to make a judgement to blame one thing ahead of others."

Conroy said retailers needed to adapt to the online world.

"Kodak was threatened many years ago because they had film, and today digital cameras are the norm. Technologies marches on. There will be transformation; there will be new jobs and over time there could be job losses," he said. "But I think what today's discussion highlighted was that the platform needed to expand."

Minister for Small Business Nick Sherry said the upcoming productivity commission review into online retailing would "look at the fact and separate the fiction" about the effect of the internet on retail in Australia

"I've said to many small business operators who have highlighted these issues: supply the facts, let's not attribute the blame to one particular issue at a point of time because it's convenient to do so," he said.

Sherry compared the issue to the demise of the blacksmith in the 1920s and the rise of petrol stations as cars took over from the horse and cart.

"Because the rise of technology innovation sees the decline in some sectors of the economy, it doesn't mean you lose jobs overall," Sherry said. "It actually leads to a stronger economy. It is about job growth and that's what's occurring with the opportunities here in retail."

Conroy said the internet posed no boundaries for retailers to become successful worldwide.

"The 28-year-old who developed the iPhone app called Flight Control. He's a millionaire now. Australia's first millionaire from an iPhone app. The thing about the internet [is] you instantly become a global company."

Topics: Government, Government AU, Piracy, Security, Telcos


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Conroy, stop trying to jog the judges elbow on this one.

    Borders and A&R failed because their ordering system for books that weren't in stock were atrocious (and there's a lot of books that weren't in stock, IMO) - that Amazon and other online systems made their ordering of such books painless just hastened their demise.

    Perhaps if they hadn't degenerated to top 50 books + coffee table books + "XXXX for dummies" books, they wouldn't have failed.
  • Agreed! A book ordered from my local A&R takes up to 6 weeks to arrive yet my online orders from overseas are usually here in just over a week.

    As for "piracy" costing the industry billions, perhaps they should examine their own backyard.
    DRM, Region coding, Copy protection, Price fixing/gouging, Delayed Selective Country Releases, etc. are among the reasons I ceased purchasing their overpriced, crippled media many years back.
  • With few exceptions I prefer to shop for books, and many other products, online.

    Traditional book stores cannot compete on range, price, and home delivery. Instead they stock lots of fiction and poor quality coffee table books.

    As an aside, I can't recall the last time I stepped into a shopping mall (or similar) where you'd typically expect stores like Borders and A&R to be. I'd much rather shop online and have it delivered to my door.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • Why is Conboy still going on about this iiNet case?

    It's an open and shut case: You can't swamp an ISP with notices about the alleged illegal activities of customers and expect them to act on it. It's not iiNet's job to investigate or police their users, nor process ridiculous volumes of notices submitted by AFACT and their associates.

    As for the supposed value of piracy, it's a crock. Multiplying the perceived number of illegal copies by the perceived value of the software doesn't equal the number of lost sales. For every 1000 pirated apps, probably 1 equates to a real lost sale.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • iiNet piracy trial - trials like this will always be about our freedom to use purchased digital material as we wish. The financial issue is re-selling digital material, not sharing it. Generally there seems to be confusion with piracy and fair use of copyright material. I love the revolution that has allowed Indie music and film to thrive, we have a deeper and richer culture as a result. Collectively we need to evolve into this new era and leave the past behind. Keep up the writing it's always appreciated.
  • On the point of Piracy

    I like a lot of old movies and one I have been looking for
    for years now is an old Aussie movie called "midnight spares"
    I believe it was made around 1980 - 84. going from video store
    to video store off and on and even eBay over some years
    I still can't get a movie that was made in this country any wonder
    people resort to any other means they can to get the movies
    they want. I believe that if all movie companies could come together
    and offer a website that is easy to navigate and search that
    guaranteed you getting the movie you want no matter how obscure
    or how popular it was at its time of release in the best quality for its time
    and made legally down load able for a small price the royalties and
    other money's would at least go back to the film makers
    so simply any movie 12 months old or more could be got at a low enough
    price that could very well reduce future piracy.
  • Sure the Internet is the blame for everything that's wrong in the world today

    As it has been said the black smith for the most part died out as the car became
    the way to travel.
    I have been involved with computers since 1984 and at different times over the
    years people remarked that "soon computers will take over all our jobs & our lives)
    well how many lives did that really upset in the long term, We have education in such
    abundance in this country I myself after being a computer tech for many years seeing
    big changes coming again, have taken up study at my local tafe we must not just follow change but change with it.
    It was not that many years ago that the E - mail was supposed sign the death nell
    for the post office, but no it changed to be an even better freight service than it ever
    was before.
    I buy a lot on line because I get what I want and I get it more often than not
    in record time, most of the things I want are things that are not stocked in the average store I wanted an adapter that was so unusual for my electronics that
    after I bought it I took it around to the local store they were puzzled at it.
    An electronics store that didn't even know how to find or order these items
    (I try to buy locally but sometimes the local store lets you down)
    Don't blame change educate yourself and be one with the world of change.