iiNet plays down ACTA draft

Australian law already covers agreement

iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, has poured cold water on so-called “conspiracy theories” about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

While he had not made a detailed study of the draft, he said the document appears to have little influence on Australian law, a suggestion echoed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) which has represented Australia in the plurilateral trade agreement.

“I can’t say I’ve made a detailed study of the draft, but a quick reading of it seems to indicate that the conspiracy theories flying around earlier in the year were just that – theories,” Dalby said in an email interview.

The 39-page draft trade agreement aims to ramp-up control held by intellectual property owners over their products and ideas and reduce counterfeiting and illegal trade between 10 participating countries and the European Union. But it does not appear to cement any changes to online copyright laws, liabilities including safe habour, or enforcement specific to online service providers.

Dalby said ACTA effectively duplicates Australian law.

“’Each party shall take into account the need for proportionality between the seriousness of the infringement and the remedies or penalties ordered’… we’d say that the current Australian law already does that,” he said, quoting the agreement.

“We’d reinforce the fact that existing Australian law adequately protects copyright holders and already has the appropriate processes to pursue and convict infringers.”

He said better access to content such as movies and music facilitated by copyright holders is the “best weapon” against infringement.

“This would generate revenues for them and reduce the need for infringement as the content becomes legally and more conveniently available".

The specific mention of a ’three-strikes’ ban is not made in the draft agreement, however reference to “limitations on liability [that] shall not affect the possibility for a judicial or administrative authority… to prevent an infringement” provides scope for governments to create such legislation.

iiNet is embroiled in a lengthy dispute in the Federal Court of Australia over liability to allegations of copyright infringement with the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).