IT Pricing Committee slams geoblocking, recommends lifting parallel imports, investigating rights to resell digital games

Money

By 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The Committee recommends the repeal of section 51(3) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
  9. 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.
  10. 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)

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21 comments (Leave your own)

And now we wait and see what changes are actually put in place from this.

 
Artful-dodgeR

makena:
And now we wait and see what changes are actually put in place from this.

See you in, let’s see, a few decades?

 

Recommendations, recommendations. Nobody to implement the recommendations let alone police them as the infractions would be technically committed overseas.

 

artfuldodger,

I’ve got time :P

 

Been reading this document for the last hour or so. It all sounds promising in thoery, but yeah, the others here have already nailed it. Will be impressed when Geo blocking is *actually* abolished rather than talked about.

Heh, Ozgameshop.com got a lot of free publicity throughout that read ;)

 

Well with an election coming up, maybe one of the parties could use this issue as a platform.

“Stop the gouging”

 

Soooooooo, do any of you know how our parliament actually works?

This is the first step towards legislation, which is required before private or public entities can then actually enforce that legislation.

Happens with virtually any major reform. Some random committee of a few MPs can’t just make a new law because they think it’s a good idea.

the infractions would be technically committed overseas

At minimum the Commonwealth could easily pass a law governing anyone who sells or ships anything into Australia.

 

I wonder how circumventing geoblocking will go when it is explicitly forbidden in EULAs. It’s only a good solution when there can be no repercussions for the consumer. If accounts can be disabled and content deleted for standing up against unfair pricing, the idea isn’t worth much.

Hopefully the government comes up with a better solution to operating in a legal grey area…

 

lol, “Educating the consumer how to circumvent Geoblocking”… yeah who is going to implement that..

I dont really care about re-selling digital content like the euro’s do, it’s a licence anyway and I’m fine with that.
But AU pricing compared to US, that’s a rip..

 

ralphwiggum: Well with an election coming up, maybe one of the parties could use this issue as a platform.

“Stop the gouging”

Perhaps they can outsource the problem to PNG, or alternately throw a 3-star General at the problem.

 

storm84:
I wonder how circumventing geoblocking will go when it is explicitly forbidden in EULAs. It’s only a good solution when there can be norepercussions for the consumer. If accounts can be disabled and content deleted for standing up against unfair pricing, the idea isn’t worth much.

Hopefully the government comes up with a better solution to operating in a legal grey area…

Yeah, it would need to be backed up by some amendments to the Australian Consumer Laws.

 

storm84: Perhaps they can outsource the problem to PNG, or alternately throw a 3-star General at the problem.

Don’t do anything until you check with the illiterate ferals in western Sydney swing seats as to what they would prefer the entire nation do.

 

caitsith01:
Soooooooo, do any of you know how our parliament actually works?

This is the first step towards legislation, which is required before private or public entities can then actually enforce that legislation.

Happens with virtually any major reform.Some random committee of a few MPs can’t just make a new law because they think it’s a good idea.

At minimum the Commonwealth could easily pass a law governing anyone who sells or ships anything into Australia.

In a perfect world maybe… however with all these under the table handshakes and trade agreements with the USA I doubt the commonwealth have the teeth.

 

Would love to see Australia extradite the corpse of Steve Jobs for breaking the Law (retroactively) or whats his name at Microsoft (Balmer?)… heck they are attempting to do that with people all over the world… Assange(SP?), Kim Dot Com… Heck you couldn’t charge Steam as their prices are only in US dollars

 

storm84: Perhaps they can outsource the problem to PNG, or alternately throw a 3-star General at the problem.

Lol. Or maybe when overpriced goods arrive in Australian waters, the Navy will “turn the boats back.”

 

I am sure we all hope some of these recommendation will be implemented but I do also fear we will be waiting a long time if ever for any real change. The only way it is likely to happen is if as said above either one side (or both) agree to implement some or all of the recommendations which seems improbable. I forget who exactly who was on the committee but unless they are in the right factions I do not think there will be much quick movement.

The other thing that will like slow or stop any real change would be the US government and their lobby groups. While it would mean more business for some US companies the giants who are ripping us off are likely to cry foul and get a stop to anything happening very quickly. Then there is the copyright acts and other laws in the US for example which may make it illegal on their end still and could stop things too. All of these could cause some serious tensions between the 2 countries as as we have far less power our local government would just cave like they always will no matter which side is in power.

 

I buy all my games online, retailers will never match cdkey retailers.
As far as im concerned, EBgames and Gamestop can crash and burn.

 

Reselling digital goods is silly and not needed – especially with how cheap I have bought all my digital games – but everything else is good…

 

11. That the government educate consumers on the website ‘www.cjs-cdkeys.com’

 

zakynthos:
11. That the government educate consumers on the website ‘www.cjs-cdkeys.com’

CD-key sites yes, CJS no. They’re terrible liars and never have keys in stock for releases and continually lie about it.

Between 2 friends and I they’ve rooted us for 3 different game releases where we ended up cancelling the keys as they ‘promised’ release and were going to deliver 1 week after. I may as well have paid $10 cheaper for 1 week after release, but I ended up paying $5 more for week of release.

 
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