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Oz gov’t rejects open importation of vids

Decision goes against Intellectual Property org's report

SYDNEY — The Australian government has ruled out allowing unrestricted importing of film products including homevideos, effectively rejecting recommendations from a government-appointed committee.

But some Australian distribs believe the government’s latest statement is ambiguous and is less than a whole-hearted rejection. That could leave the door open for reforms which would allow anyone to import videos once they are legally available elsewhere in the world, principally the U.S.

The Intellectual Property and Competition Review Committee chaired by Henry Ergas recently presented its report to the government, urging the removal of all restrictions on the importing of copyright products including books, computer software and videos.

In June the government said it would introduce legislation to permit parallel importation of books and computer software, believing this will result in lower prices for Australian consumers. It did not specifically rule out allowing open imports of videos until last week when communications minister Richard Alston and attorney general Daryl Williams jointly issued a statement. “The government has made no commitment to the removal of current restrictions on the parallel importation of film products as no compelling case has been demonstrated,” they said.

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