On 2 March 2011, after a consultation period which ended in late
January, the final Terms of Reference for the Convergence
Review ("Convergence Review") were
announced by Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications
and the Digital Economy. The Convergence Review can be viewed at -
here to read the Review.
Scope of the Convergence Review
The Convergence Review will reassess existing regulatory
frameworks applicable to media, telecommunications, radio,
television and the internet in light of their convergence through
innovations in technology. This will take into account the quiet
revolution in the ways that the Australian public accesses and
consumes content and media.
The technology facilitating converged media is accelerating
rapidly, but media and communications regulations have not kept
pace. The Convergence Review will include scrutiny of legislation
such as the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 in light of the
new media landscape with its promises for transformation of content
delivery via the NBN, and the switch to digital television.
Focus on copyright
In its submissions to the Commonwealth Government regarding the
Convergence Review, the Australian Federation Against Copyright
Theft ("AFACT") referred to the 2008
"OECD Policy Guidelines for Convergence and Next
Generation Networks" and the importance of protection of
intellectual property rights in the digital economy. AFACT
extracted the following quote:
"Governments may need to
address cross-border issues as services are increasingly
geographically and network independent. This creates significant
challenges for policy-makers. In particular, they might need to:
Review consumer protection frameworks, content regulation measures,
the protection of intellectual property rights, the protection of
privacy and personal data, and legal
Speaking to journalists at an online retail forum in Sydney in
February 2011, Senator Conroy was quoted as saying: "One
of the issues I'm sure that will be debated [in the Convergence
Review] is piracy ... so I expect that will be a large part of the
review. ... We won't form any policy until after the
convergence review is finished."
It is difficult to imagine a Convergence Review that will not
address the relevance of existing copyright laws, especially in
light of the recent Federal Court appeal decision in the iiNet
case2. Accordingly, the preamble to the Convergence
Review states that: "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".
The Review Committee will be expected to deliver a report to the
Government in the first quarter of 2012.
1. Page 6, sub section 12 - Cross Border
2. Roadshow Films Pty Limited v iiNet Limited
 FCAFC 23 (24 February 2011)
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The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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