Australia to support geo-blocking as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

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CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

At the end of the IT pricing inquiry held by the House of Representatives back in July, there were a number of recommendations made.

(2010_1310 - Coins_3 image by Ben Hosking, CC BY 2.0)

One of these included that consumers be granted the right to circumvent geo-blocking and be provided with education on the most effective ways to do so to allow Australians access to more equitable prices.

This was because the inquiry found that Australians consistently pay more for IT products than their US counterparts, including (on average) 50 per cent more for professional software and 84 per cent more for games.

However, a draft of the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, released by WikiLeaks, suggests that these recommendations have been swept under the rug.

The TPP is an agreement that's currently being negotiated between Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, aimed at simplifying trade between the 12 nations.

According to Josh Taylor on our sister site ZDNet, a "clause proposed by Australia, the US, Singapore, Peru and Mexico would also seek to prohibit circumvention of 'technological measures' put in place by copyright holders over their works".

While the definition is certainly broad, ZDNet notes that "it could be seen to include the use of virtual private networks to access geo-blocked content, such as Netflix, from outside the US".

It's important to be aware that the TPP has not been finalised, and the leaked chapter does represent draft text.

ZDNet also found that the TPP may cause issues for Australian internet service providers (ISPs). Australia and the US are actually opposing a part of the chapter that would limit the liability for ISPs for the infringement of copyright committed by its users on its network.

The "safe harbour" proposal would ensure that, with a few exceptions, ISPs are not responsible for what their users do on the network. Given that the High Court of Australia previously ruled that iiNet wasn't liable for copyright infringement on its network, Australia's opposition to the safe harbour seems unusual.

For a more detailed analysis of the leaked IP chapter, please head to ZDNet.

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gregory.opera posted a comment   

And this is why companies like Kogan are making millions of Dollars each year... To the dismay of Big Retail.

I'm about to buy the upcoming Kogan Agora HD+ for a fraction of what it cost me to buy my (now broken) Sony Xperia Z - heck, their televisions as even cheaper (in price) still (when compared to Big Retail prices)!

The Government may make life difficult for the little guy in the interest of Big Retail/Big Business, but as long as there is companies like Kogan, we're in good hands...

Fight with your wallets people - it's the only way governments and Big Business know how to take a hint.


prhayward posted a comment   

It'd be a whole lot simply if Australian retailers demanded from their suppliers (e.g Microsoft Australia) to play fair ball.

Simple. Why does it need an expensive government inquiry to discover the bleeding obvious?


prhayward posted a reply   

... simpler... :)


ADSLNerd posted a comment   

This TPP Is illegal, as it is illegal for any Member of Parliament, to have allegiance, adherence, obedience to a Foreign power - including the UN - Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1901 - penalty - imprisonment. Additionally, geo-blocking is easy to bypass due to Internet shopping for physical products, or use of proxy's / VPN's for digital requirements.


gregory.opera posted a reply   

And even if "the powers that be" find some magical way to block VPNs (incredibly unlikely, for those whom are not so tach-savvy), there's always mail forwarding services...

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