ccl joins other groups to protect online privacy

Tuesday, 22 March 2005 NSWCCL media release: 2/2005


Three community organisations (collectively known as the ‘Amici’) were successful today in their application to be heard as amicus curiae (or friend of the court) in the Peer to Peer test case Universal v Sharman currently underway in the Federal Court of Australia. The Amici application was opposed by the music labels. Nonetheless the Court accepted the importance of a broader public interest in the interpretation of some of the provisions of the Copyright Act and the standing of the organisations to put that broader public interest perspective before the Court. 

The organizations, Australian Consumers Association, Electronic Frontiers Australia and NSW Council for Civil Liberties, were represented by the Communication Law Centre at Victoria University. The CLC was assisted by pro bono counsel and by student volunteers from the University of Sydney Amicus Litigation Clinic. The Court received written submissions from the organizations and gave an opportunity to the music labels to put submissions in response to the Amici’s written submissions at a later time. 

“The CLC submitted that this is a major test case, which will have serious ramifications for the ways in which Australian consumers can communicate. It is vital that the perspectives of the technology users are put before the court, and we are pleased that the court wanted to hear from us” said Elizabeth Beal, Director of the Communications Law Centre at Victoria University. 

“P2P is a new and rapidly evolving technology with a multitude of uses. It is vastly more efficient than the traditional internet because of the way it breaks up and sends data. The use of bandwidth from all of the participant computers in the network, in a dispersed system instead of just a centralized server, makes it cheaper and faster, and opens up a whole range of uses of the internet that weren’t possible before,” said Dale Clapperton of EFA. 

“Already P2P is delivering a wide range of benefits to Australian consumers, such as the ability to make low-cost telephone calls through VOIP. The case is an important test regarding technology such as this one and in what circumstances making it available will not be found to infringe the Copyright Act” said Charles Britton of ACA. 

“While some P2P facilities may be used by to infringe copyright, we believe that copyright law should not be extended so far that it effectively stops the exchange of public domain or non-infringing material, or inhibits the innovators who create and develop P2P networks” said Stephen Blanks of NSW CCL. “We are particularly concerned with the implications of users communicating through these kinds of facilities having their communications monitored. As such this case raises major privacy concerns”. 

For Further Comment: 
Elizabeth Beal, Communications Law Centre, 0416115868, (03) 9919 1274/1278 
Stephen Blanks, NSW Council for Civil Liberties 9555 8654 
Charles Britton, Australian Consumers Association, Ph 9557 3290, 0413719512 
Dale Clapperton, Electronic Frontiers Australia, 0416 007 100