Convergence Review: Let the bun fight(s) begin

Over at Lawfont, Sarah reports that the terms of the Convergence Review have been announced.

This is not just about ‘regulatory’ matters. From the preamble:

…. At the same time, the globalising effect of the internet is profound and rapid, and has challenged regulatory boundaries.

New content services channelled through internet service providers and across jurisdictional borders are challenging traditional media business models and forcing governments all over the world to reconsider the assumptions behind existing legislation and regulatory frameworks.

….

The government wants to make sure that the policy framework upon which Australia’s industry structures and regulation are built is adequately designed for the convergent age and does not impede continued technological change and innovation. At the same time, the framework must ensure the ongoing protection of Australian content and cultural values, the adequate reflection of community standards and expectations and the safeguarding of privacy and other citizens’ rights.

The government recognises that any discussion of the production and distribution of Australian content raises issues of copyright in the digital age. The Review Committee may offer views on copyright and the ongoing protection of content in a converged environment, noting that the Attorney-General will ultimately determine these matters.

(my emphasis)

and point 2 of the terms of reference:

the Committee shall have regard to all legislation and regulatory frameworks relevant to these terms of reference and, where necessary, advise the government on issues outside the purview of the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities.

(my emphasis again)

[remembering, as the preamble noted, that copyright is within the Attorney General’s portfolio, not the Minister for Communications etc.]

The review is specifically directed to  take into account amongst other things by point 5(b), (c) and (d):

  • b) ensuring the ongoing production and distribution of local and Australian content that reflects and contributes to the development of national and cultural identity;
  • c) the impact of policy settings on industry and government revenue;
  • d) appropriate ways to treat content, and the services and applications used to deliver content, which are cross-border in nature;

We also heard (or read) last week that the ALRC will be told to keep its hands off the issues covered by the Convergence Review.

The Review is to deliver their final report to Government by the first quarter of 2012.

The terms of reference.

The Minister’s speech (not to Parliament) announcing the release of the terms of reference.

A Mr Boreham, from IBM, will chair the review; a Mr Long, with a background from the regulatory agencies, will be the second member and a third member is to be announced.

An earlier time, when “convergence” seemed new (and iTunes and P2P) were not even twinkles in our computer monitors (pdf).

Published by war

A barrister practising mainly in Australian patents, trade marks, copyright and other IP law; lecturer and contributing author to LexisNexis' Copyright & Designs and Patents looseleaf services

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