The Government Has An Official Response To The IT Pricing Inquiry, But You Can't See It Yet

Remember the IT Pricing Inquiry? That big, ugly inquiry that saw tech giants dragged before the Parliament to explain why they choose to gouge Aussies for tech, software and content? A year has gone by since the final report was submitted to the Parliament, but sadly it was swept under the political rug in favour of electioneering and a change of government from Labor to the Coalition. That Coalition government finally has a response to the recommendations made by the inquiry, but you can't see it just yet. Here's why.

It had been reported that the release of the Government's response would coincide with the one-year anniversary of tabling the final report, but a week has since gone by and no response has materialised.

Usually when a Parliamentary Report is submitted to the Government, it's appropriate to respond within six months of its tabling. It's been quite a bit longer than that now, and we're likely to wait a few more weeks on top of that.

A source close to the report has told us this morning that the Government's response paper does exist, but it's currently going through the final approval stages before it can be released to the public. T's are being crossed, I's are being dotted and so on.

Meanwhile, the Coalition has signalled it's intentions to keep hammering big IT companies for gouging customers in a new root-and-branch review into competition law. The issues paper for the inquiry asked how the government could regulate the market to ensure that tech and gadgets carry fairer prices.

As yet, there hasn't been a huge response in submissions to the question on IT pricing laid out in the root-and-branch review, so we'll have to see how the government tackles that from a competition perspective.

Coalition MP, Paul Fletcher, has previously communicated his feelings on the matter, saying that he disagrees that Aussies should be taught how to circumvent geoblocks:

The Committee recommended that government should advise Australian consumers on how they could circumvent geoblocking mechanisms. This is a very odd idea which amounts to recommending that the government should advise people on how to break the law.
Geoblocking mechanisms are a well-established approach used by copyright owners to protect their property. For example, if the rights to a song or movie or other piece of content are licensed by the copyright owner for use in one jurisdiction but not another, then geoblocking is used so that the content cannot be accessed online in the jurisdiction where the copyright owner has not licensed its use. To ‘circumvent an ‘accesscontrol technological protection measure’ (which includes geoblocking mechanisms) is a breach of the Copyright Act.

We'll have to see whether or not that view is shared by the wider Coalition when the official response is outed hopefully some time in the next few weeks.

Image via Shutterstock



    Meanwhile, the Coalition has signalled it’s intentions to keep hammering big IT companies for gouging customers in a new root-and-branch review into competition law.

    No matter who's in power (Labor or the Coalition) the local industries won't give a flying fritz.

    They will only listen to money and I say keep up the shopping online even if there is no saving. Keep it going long enough and eventually common sense will sink on or the local publishers, etc, will die out.

    Babbot won't give a stuff unless bibles were too expensive.

    "Geoblocking mechanisms are a well-established approach used by copyright owners to protect their property"

    From who? Paying customers? Doesn't the fact that geoblocking exists in the first place contribute to piracy..?

      Its not about payment.

      Lets say retailer x has a licence from a studio to market and distribute a song in a particular area while retailer y has the licence for a different area. If you live in retailer y's area but buy from retailer x, retailer y is losing money. They buy these rights for a lot of money and want to make that money back with a return on their investment.

      You may buy from retailer x because they are cheaper, they are easier to buy from or because you saw an add for them or a website.

      I understand that in instances where there is no comparative service in an area, there shouldn't be an issue, however in a lot of cases there are alternatives, but they may be small because they are only just starting or what ever. These alternatives aren't going to get bigger if people keep sending their money to the guy who has the monopoly.

      Then 5 years down the track, the same people here complaining about it and sending their money to retailer x will complain that retailer y having gone bust because of not enough business, is bad for competition, even though they are responsible for the collapse.

    "This is a very odd idea which amounts to recommending that the government should advise people on how to break the law. Geoblocking mechanisms are a well-established approach used by copyright owners to protect their property."

    First off, there is no law ANYWHERE that says circumventing a geo-block is illegal. At worst it is a grey area, but to say it's against the law is patently untrue. Secondly, to defend geo-blocking is to defend the exact same business model that results in us being charged sometimes 3x more than our foreign cousins. There is literally no reason to do it other than pure, blind greed. It has absolutely nothing to do with protecting their Copyright. Infact, if anything it encourages people to VIOLATE Copyright by torrenting things instead of paying for them. It's the same as trying to argue that region locking on DVDs and Blu-rays is a good thing. Name one benefit it has for consumers. NAME ONE MR. FLETCHER.

      It's like saying we should discourage people from walking into shops because shoplifting is illegal!

        Except for the fact that you're circumventing geoblocking to pay for the content.

        It's more like importing a product because it's not sold in Australia.

      Personally I do it myself I subscribed to Netflix and use unlocator to gain access it cost me about $13 per month and i get 10 times to content on foxtel and i don't have to torrent anymore.

      However if you read Netflix's TOS (terms of service) it outlines that using any VPN or DNS redirect service to gain access to Netflix outside of the country's that Netflix services violates the TOS. Meaning that while it's not illegal Netflix can still call a red flag and close your account.

      But in reality they know people are doing it and they don't care it's only when content holders jump up and down that they would ever consider closing accounts.

      I always equate it with a digital equivalent to parallel importing.

      Why shouldn't I be allowed to buy something from the US if it's cheaper? Our laws literally protect us in doing that. But apparently media should be something entirely different?

      It's important to note that Paul Fletcher's quote is with regard to Section 10 of the Copyright Act 1968, specifically pertaining to the use of an "access control technological protection measure". By this logic, circumvention of geoblocking equates to a breach of the Copyright Act and is therefore an illegal action.

      Of course, the biggest issues with this line of thinking are globalisation, the scope of a 1968 legal document to cover entire paradigm changes in technology, and the juncture of ethics and law.

      Ed: Link through to the relevant section of the Copyright Act:

      Last edited 05/08/14 5:12 pm

        Actually it's not an illegal action. Section 116AN of the copyright Act ( only says that the copyright owner may bring action against the person, where action is defined under section 135AL as "a proceeding of a civil nature between parties, including a counterclaim" ( A civil wrong is not a criminal action and therefore not illegal. It is only tortious.

        Secondly, under the definition you referenced access control technological protection measures do not include such a device, product, technology or component to the extent that it:
        (c) if the work or other subject-matter is a cinematograph film or computer program (including a computer game)--controls geographic market segmentation by preventing the playback in Australia of a non-infringing copy of the work or other subject-matter acquired outside Australia;

        I would therefore argue that by circumventing geoblocking to obtain a non-infringing copy to allow playback in Australia I am well within the bounds of copyright law.

        Last edited 06/08/14 10:42 am

    I suspect the one approach the Government could try is to ensure Australians don't know what they're missing out on.

    The only way to do this however would be to create such a slow, stogy, over-administered piece-of-crap fibre-to-the-pub-down-the-road lets-store-all-your-history-for-the-last-two-years internet structure that citizens will have no choice but to give up, turn off the computer and go and watch free to air (Oh look, the Doctor's finally regenerated! Hmm - Don't like this new Colin Baker guy) television.

    Or for the very rich, and politicians - Foxtel.

      ABC still has the rights to Doctor Who so all good there, for now

    "T’s are being crossed, I’s are being dotted"

    S's are having a vertical stroke down the middle added.

    Last edited 05/08/14 3:04 pm

    Even though we can't see it, can we least see the meta data for it.

    For any other industry, a local distributor can ensure a large market, so when they purchase from overseas they're able to import in bulk, which results in savings over the cost of importing a single item.

    There is something horribly fucking wrong when an individual can pay for wasteful, single-unit, personalized home delivery of RETAIL-PRICED goods for cheaper than a local distributor can provide with bulk shipping savings and wholesale prices.

    That's wrong. That's horribly fucking wrong. Money is hemorrhaging from somewhere in that process.

    How I read Coalition MP, Paul Fletcher's comments:
    "We have no intention of upsetting Emperor Murdoch after he bought us the election".

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