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Equity urges government to act on copyright

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The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance has called for the Government to act decisively to bring copyright law into the 21st century. This follows the Federal Court’s decision this week to dismiss an appeal by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft in its case against the Internet service provider iiNet.

“This decision makes it clear that the law is lagging well behind the fast moving developments in the digital age,” said Simon Whipp, National Director of the Equity section of the Alliance.

“Copyright laws are there to fundamentally protect the creative community’s interests and foster an environment where creators can develop their work, flourish and benefit from their endeavours. This has been the case for centuries. The Federal Court’s decision demonstrates that they are now deficient in that they are no longer protecting right holders on the internet. Australian copyright law therefore requires an overhaul to bring it up to date.”

The case began in November 2008 when AFACT – made up of 34 parties representing Australian and US film companies and the Seven Network – filed a legal action against iiNet alleging that iiNet authorised customers to download film and television programs in breach of copyright. This followed an investigation that identified the IP addresses of iiNet customers who had infringed copyright. The original decision was handed down in February 2010. The Alliance intervened in the case to put forward its views on the issue and inform the court of the impact piracy has on the working lives of performers.

“The Alliance represents the majority of the Australian workers who are impacted negatively by ongoing copyright infringement and today’s decision provides no comfort to their very real concerns. The fact of the matter is that cases like this are avoidable. What is required is for goodwill on both sides - our industry and the country’s ISPs - to sit down and discuss the very real issues that are at stake here to see how they can be addressed in a practical and non-disruptive manner.”

“This approach must also be supported through amendments to the copyright laws to ensure that creative works are protected and their creators including performers, artists, musicians and filmmakers can continue to develop works in a nurturing and secure environment.”

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