Village Roadshow and Copyright Reform

Geordie Guy made this Freedom of Information request to Attorney-General's Department

Waiting for an internal review by Attorney-General's Department of their handling of this request.

From: Geordie Guy

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,

I am writing to request under the Freedom of Information Act, copies of all correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department since the last federal election, which mention or propose changes to the Copyright Act, or regulatory changes seeking to limit the infringement of copyright.

Yours faithfully,

Geordie Guy

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From: Geordie Guy

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,

I wrote on the 19th of last month with a freedom of information request and have not received acknowledgement of that request. While you normally have until the 21st of July for a formal response, usual practice on submission of requests under the act is an acknowledgement of that request - in fact a previous request I've made to the department issued an automatic response doing so. Can you please confirm that you have received my request and are tracking for your obligations to respond by the 21st of this month?

Yours faithfully,

Geordie Guy

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From: Geordie Guy

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,

I wrote on the 19th of last month with a freedom of information request and have not received acknowledgement of that request, despite a follow up email on the 3rd of July requesting notification that you have received it and that you are (at least currently) intending to provide both provide access to the information I have requested and do so inside the time frame the act specifies. Are you able to confirm that you have received the request and are processing it?

Yours faithfully,

Geordie Guy

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

Thank you for your email. This is an automated response to advise you that
your email has been received by the Attorney-General's Department's FOI
Coordinator.

 

If you wish to lodge a request for access to documents under the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), please ensure that your request is in
writing, states that it is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
and provides sufficient detail describing the documents you wish to
access. The FOI Coordinator will acknowledge your request within 14 days.

 

 

Kind Regards

 

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section.

 

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Good afternoon Mr Guy

Can you please re-send your FOI request as the Attorney-General's Department FOI section has not received either email mentioned in the email below.

Kind Regards

FOI Contact Officer

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
Email: [AGD request email]

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From: Geordie Guy

Delivered

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

That's certainly quite surprising and more than a little troubling. I hope the department does not routinely lose correspondence.

The original body request was as follows;

I am writing to request under the Freedom of Information Act, copies of all correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department since the last
federal election, which mention or propose changes to the Copyright Act, or regulatory changes seeking to limit the infringement of copyright.

If it helps, I'm using Right To Know, a service which assists non-experts in the FOI Act to make requests under the act. It keeps a running log of correspondence between requesters and bodies which the FOI act covers, notifies requesters when they have new replies, provides information about appeals etc. as well as providing a public location for all the info. The original request and first follow up are publicly available at https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/654 - so if you mislay any further correspondence it can be checked there. Please note it can take some time for the information to be visible on the site, although as the user of the site making this request, I see things straight away.

Yours sincerely,

Geordie Guy

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From: Geordie Guy

Delivered

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

On July 7 you wrote asking me to re-provide the detail of my June 19 FOI request as you had mislaid the initial correspondence. I re-provided that detail on the same day and further gave detail of a website where correspondence was being logged and you could review it should you have further problems. I haven't received notification that you received my response to that email. As you appear to be having extended difficulty handling correspondence, are you able to confirm that you have my request in its entirety, understand it, and are still tracking for your ordinary circumstances deadline of July 20?

Yours sincerely,

Geordie Guy

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Henare Degan left an annotation ()

Just a note that all emails in this request were successfully delivered to the department's email server at "agd1-ibmail1.msng.telstra.com.au[58.162.18.40]:25".

Cheers,

Henare Degan
Right To Know administrator

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Dear Mr Guy
Unfortunately the Attorney-General's Department did not receive a Freedom of Information request from you on 19 June 2014.

The only correspondence received from you in relation to this matter (Freedom of Information request - Village Roadshow and Copyright Reform) using sender address [FOI #654 email] is an email on 7 July 2014 at 1:38 pm and an email on 16 July 2014 at 11:30 am.

In response to your email of 7 July we wrote asking you to resend information as we had not received the correspondence to which you referred. The next piece of correspondence we received was your email of 16 July (below). As it appeared from your email that you believed we had received more correspondence than our records indicated, investigations have been conducted by the department's information technology specialists. Following that investigation we can advise that only the email of 7/7/14 at 1:38pm and the email of 16/7/14 at 11:30am have reached the department's network. They arrived in the Freedom of Information inbox ([AGD request email]) and have now both received responses.

The advice from the department's information technology specialists is that, as the righttoknow email address name is automatically generated when sending from righttoknow.org.au it is hard for them to track an email chain from the sending address, and that if there are other emails that should have arrived from righttoknow it would be best to follow up the issue with the vendor website support.

Because your original email did not arrive in our departmental Freedom of Information inbox, we do not have a current Freedom of Information request from you. If you would like to make a request please send us an email with the details of the documents you wish to access. An automatic reply is generated when the email with your initial request is received in the Freedom of Information inbox at [AGD request email] . If you do not receive that automatic response you may like to re-send the request from another email account or contact Right to Know for technical support.

If you have any queries about this matter please contact the department by email at [AGD request email] or by telephone on (02) 6141 6666.

Regards

FOI Contact Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
*: [AGD request email]

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Geordie Guy left an annotation ()

The following was sent by mail client outside of Right To Know.

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

My name is Geordie Guy. On the 19th of June I made a request under the act as below;

I am writing to request under the Freedom of Information Act, copies of all correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department since the last federal election, which mention or propose changes to the Copyright Act, or regulatory changes seeking to limit the infringement of copyright.

On the 3rd of July I followed up that email noting that I had not received acknowledgement of the request and asking the department to confirm it. Further follow up emails were sent on the 7th of July and 16th of July, with a reply on the 7th of July where the department advised that it had not received the email that the follow up referred to. A reply to that advice went unanswered. The department now asserts that the only correspondence received was on the 7th of July and the 16th of July, and that both pieces of correspondence were requests for follow-ups, and no substantial request has been received.

In an email dated today, the department has asserted the following;

"The advice from the department's information technology specialists is that, as the righttoknow email address name is automatically generated when sending from righttoknow.org.au it is hard for them to track an email chain from the sending address, and that if there are other emails that should have arrived from righttoknow it would be best to follow up the issue with the vendor website support."

This makes a certain amount of sense, I can accept that dynamically created correspondence can be difficult to trace, but in this instance I may be able to assist the department's IT specialists.

Attached are the email server logs from the sending server at Right to Know which shows emails were sent from the Right to Know email server on;

June 19 at 16:36:03 with message ID 94D14371DEE0 - this email was successfully received as indicated by the 250 ("OK") status message issued by the department email server (agd1-ibmail1.msng.telstra.com.au), which assigned it ID 405799
July 3 at 13:07:02 with message ID F37C1361EF0B - this email was successfully received as indicated by the 250 ("OK") status message issued by the department email server which assigned it ID 580326
July 7 at 13:37:30 with message ID 733CC36AFA8F- this was also successfully received as indicated by the same status message, by the same server, which assigned it ID 609234
July 7 at 14:41:47 with message ID A542636AFA8F. Same server, same OK message indicating the mail was accepted for local delivery, message ID 612408
July 16 at 11:30:15 with ID 49C593701ABB. Same sever, same OK message, ID 699590

Each of these emails was confirmed by the attorney general's email server as accepted by the department and queued for local delivery. A unique identifier was assigned to each by the department's mail server, and returned to the Right to Know server as the reference for that delivery.

Could you please ask the department IT staff to investigate further? Their hurdle in finding the emails should now be cleared with the unique identifiers for each email now available. This will help you ascertain whether my request was received but for some reason not actioned, or if there is a problem with departmental technology infrastructure which has been occurring for a month and specifically targets correspondence from me.

I would appreciate further a new target date for providing the information I've requested.

Regards,

Geordie Guy

- (logs attached as a tarball)

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Geordie Guy left an annotation ()

Received via regular email;

Dear Mr Guy

Freedom of Information Request no. FOI14/142

I refer to your request for access to documents relating to correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. I have taken your request to be for:

all correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department since the last federal election, which mention or propose changes to the Copyright Act, or regulatory changes seeking to limit the infringement of copyright.

If you disagree with our interpretation of your request, please let me know as soon as possible.

We received your request on 22 July 2014 and the 30 day statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. You should therefore expect a decision from us by 21 August 2014. The period of 30 days may be extended if we need to consult third parties or for other reasons. We will advise you if this happens.

It is the usual practice of the Department to not release the names and contact details of junior officers of the Department and other government agencies, where that personal information is contained in documents within scope of a request. The names and contact details of senior officers will generally be released. We will take it that you agree to the removal of junior officers’ personal information unless you advise that you would like us to consider releasing that information as part of the documents you have requested.

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be published online on our disclosure log http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtection..., subject to certain exceptions. (For example, personal information will not be published where this would be unreasonable.)

We will contact you using the email address you provided. Please advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means of contact. If you have any questions, please contact the FOI Section by email foi@ag.gov.au.

Kind Regards

FOI Contact Officer

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel

Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600

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Geordie Guy left an annotation ()

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

Yesterday I provided the required documentary evidence which shows that the request was received on the 19th of June. Can you advise why this email advises that you received in on the 22nd of July? That response seems to erroneously consider my email from the 22nd advising of the history of this request as the original request, and seems to set aside the proof in the same email that the department received the request last month.

Regards,

Geordie

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Geordie Guy left an annotation ()

Via email:

UNCLASSIFIED

14/9975

4 August 2014

Mr Geordie Guy

Dear Mr Guy

Freedom of Information Request no.FOI14/142

I refer to your request for access to documents relating to correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. I have taken your request to be for:

all correspondence between the Village Roadshow group of companies, and the Attorney-General's Department since the last federal election, which mention or propose changes to the Copyright Act, or regulatory changes seeking to limit the infringement of copyright.

Please find attached a copy of the decision in this matter. In summary, the documents you sought access to cannot be found or do not exist.

Regards

FOI Contact Officer

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel

Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
*:foi@ag.gov.au

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Henare Degan left an annotation ()

Thanks for keeping this request up to date Geordie.

I find it very hard to believe there's been no correspondence. Are they deliberately misreading the request not to include correspondence with the Minister himself? Has this correspondence only happened via personal email or not been written down?

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Geordie Guy left an annotation ()

Via email;

Dear Mr Walter and Ms Burley,

Thankyou for your correspondence in which you detail that you are refusing access to the documents I have sought access to on the grounds that they do not exist per S24A(1)(b)(ii). I would like to subsequently request an internal review of this matter under S54 of the act.

During the course of this request correspondence regarding it was lost or unfindable on several occasions by the department, upon requesting that a review of the request's history to determine where the correspondence might have wound up to, the department first asserted that no such email was received, then advised that its IT specialists were unable to locate the emails from a particular sender under certain circumstances. I provided email server logs to the department showing the emails that were successfully delivered to and from the department with sufficient detail to allow them to be located however the department has not progressed that particular discussion as part of dealing with this request.

The news media in recent months has canvassed in significant detail that the department intends to reform sections of various Australian legislation and regulation which pertain to copyright infringement. Village Roadshow, an election donor more prolific than the tobacco industry, has been vociferously supportive of these measures and the detail of that support matches the reasons outlined in the Attorney General's statements both in the media and to a senate inquiry in which it was revealed that an internal working group examining the matter existed in the department.

I think it more likely that there has been correspondence on this matter between the Attorney General and on behalf of Village Roadshow (or its subsidiaries or agents acting on its behalf such as lobbyists) than not. Further, any reasonable person having reviewed the simultaneous situations where that correspondence is likely to exist and that the department has lost or been unable to locate particular correspondence which is proven to have been sent and successfully received, warrants a second look.

Regards,

Geordie

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Daniel O'Connor left an annotation ()

A few things of broad interest:
1) http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/con...

4:45ish:
"I doubt there is a stakeholder group, who at one stage or another has not either spoken to me ... or my staff".

but at 12 min:

Ludlam: "Are the discussions still going on with ... rightholders?"

Department official: "No"

Brandis mentions Telstra as an ISP, but then later on refuses to divulge who he has met with.

It may be that there is a level of indirection that makes it hard to find documents matching your FOI request.

Given the ASA (formerly AFACT) has reportedly donated heavily to both parties (http://www.zdnet.com/au/lobby-pushing-fo... it's quite plausible that he has met with them (and they represent village roadshow), but I think it's in everyone's interest to assume the answers given by the department were accurate, if limited.

2) Speech to the ADA wrt "The Great Gatsby"
I think the real question to unlock this is where does Brandis' advice regarding the "The Great Gatsby" piracy come from, referred to in later media comments?

The speech he gave; 14th Feb:
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Speech...

The closest reporting I can find is: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/mov... - MAY 24, 2014, so *after*.

There's no research published that I can find via some cursory googling that appears to predate Feb 2014, barring 1x torrentfreak article (Week ending August 11, 2013 - downloads of the week, top 10 list).

Search terms used: - "piracy great gatsby -brandis -caribbean".

I infer from that either his speech was not based on evidence, or minimal evidence from piracy sites + a lot of conclusions reached independently (unlikely given the later reporting); or he was became aware of the issue via a third party/some other means.

An altered FOI request for advice provided to the minister regarding the piracy of that particular movie might yield the original source/intermediary; and thus sidestep some of the chinese wall-type practices we appear to be seeing here.

Alternatively, meeting notes & outcomes of discussions with ISPs (re Telstra meeting comments - was it *just* Telstra? Was the communciation minister involved? Were there any others?), or visitor logs, locations, & dates may yield a bit more detail.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Attorney-General's Department only: