We just mentioned the charade
happening down in Australia, where the entertainment industry, the government and some ISPs are meeting in total secrecy
to try to hash out a "voluntary" plan to deal with online infringement. Of course, not only won't any agreement work, the whole process is stupid. Thankfully, at least one ISP is publicly speaking out about this: iiNet.
Of course, to some extent, iiNet is "responsible" for these meetings happening at all. If you don't recall, iiNet was chosen carefully by a Hollywood-run front group in Australia called AFACT -- the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft -- because the Hollywood studios thought that it was big enough to matter, but too small
to actually fight back. They miscalculated. iiNet fought back (strongly) and won easily at multiple levels, leading to a nice precedent on the books that Hollywood hates
. Of course, part of that ruling more or less said that iiNet had no responsibility to do anything under existing law. So now that's resulted in these meetings, in which the government hopes "an agreement" is reached, but where it also gets to suggest that if the ISPs don't appease Hollywood, regulations might be put in place.
iiNet, being at the center of all this, finds the entire thing ridiculous and is not shy about stating how it really feels
, saying that negotiating with Hollywood is like talking to a brick wall. The blog post from iiNet covers a lot of ground that we've covered here for years, but it's nice to see an ISP speak out so publicly and so strongly on these points. First off, it covers the real problem: there's real consumer demand, but the industry sucks at meeting it. It also debunks the "can't compete with free" trope, yet again.
AFACT and other rights holder bodies don’t care much for consumers. As you may have read, Neil Gane of AFACT thinks consumers are “unreasonable” to tell their suppliers of entertainment what they want. Actually, AFACT don’t have any customers in Australia, they are all in California, which unfortunately means that consumer pressure is unlikely to have much impact on their strategies.
iiNet have suggested that they focus on what the market is demanding, but it’s a waste of breath. Their masters have set the agenda and rights holders will only do their bidding.
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.
Listening to actual consumers would be tremendously helpful, but the inability of the entertainment industry to do exactly that is a big part of the reason they're in this mess today in the first place.