Damning findings against companies seeking to unfairly price-gouge Australian consumers.
By Tim Colwill on July 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm
The final report from the Parliamentary Committee investigating IT pricing in Australia has been handed down.
In the 146-page document (which can be downloaded here), the Committee make a number of recommendations, including a possible ban on geoblocking (the practice of restricting people from online purchases based on their location) and, in the shorter term, that consumers be educated on ways to circumvent companies that implement it.
Other important recommendations include a lifting on parallel importation restrictions, which are currently driving prices higher for Australian consumers, and looking into a European Union-style arrangement which would grant Australians the inalieable right to re-sell their digital goods.
The recommendations are reprinted here below:
- The Committee recommends that the ABS develop a comprehensive program to monitor and report expenditure on IT products, hardware and software, both domestically and overseas, as well as the size and volume of the online retail market.
- Considering the importance of IT products to education, and in the interests of greater transparency in this area, the Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in consultation with Universities Australia and CAUDIT, conduct a comprehensive study of the future IT needs of and costs faced by Australian Universities, in order to provide clearer financial parameters for negotiations.
- The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider a whole-of-government accessible IT procurement policy, to be developed by relevant agencies including AGIMO, and in consultation with relevant stakeholder groups including ACCAN.
- The Committee recommends that the parallel importation restrictions still found in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be lifted, and that the parallel importation defence in the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) be reviewed and broadened to ensure it is effective in allowing the importation of genuine goods.
- The Committee recommends that the Australian Government amend the Copyright Act’s section 10(1) anti-circumvention provisions to clarify and secure consumers’ rights to circumvent technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation.
- The Committee further recommends that the Australian Government investigate options to educate Australian consumers and businesses as to:
- the extent to which they may circumvent geoblocking mechanisms in order to access cheaper legitimate goods;
- the tools and techniques which they may use to do so; and
- the way in which their rights under the Australian Consumer Law may be affected should they choose to do so.
- The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in conjunction with relevant agencies, consider the creation of a ‘right of resale’ in relation to digitally distributed content, and clarification of ‘fair use’ rights for consumers, businesses, and educational institutions, including restrictions on vendors’ ability to ‘lock’ digital content into a particular ecosystem.
- The Committee recommends the repeal of section 51(3) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
- The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider enacting a ban on geoblocking as an option of last resort, should persistent market failure exist in spite of the changes to the Competition and Consumer Act and the Copyright Act recommended in this report.
- That the Australian Government investigate the feasibility of amending the Competition and Consumer Act so that contracts or terms of service which seek to enforce geoblocking are considered void.
Source: Australian Parliament House (thanks Cas)