After numerous delays, the six largest ISPs in America will be joining forces with rights holders to implement a six-strikes policy. The program will seek to educate Internet users on legal methods for obtaining content online. There's already a discussion for a similar program in Australia, but one of the nation's leading ISPs has just walked out of those talks.
TorrentFreak reports that iiNET has refused to cooperate with rights holders with identifying those who illegally download content. The reasons for not cooperating are twofold - iiNET wants rights holders to start offering their content in a timely and inexpensive manner, and the ISP refuses to store identifying information on its customers.
On the first point, it's no secret that consumers in Australia get screwed over more often than any other country. Not only do they have to wait almost a year after the films come out overseas, but the prices for said content, even digitally, is exorbitantly high. Speaking to TorrentFreak, iiNET's Chief Regulatory Office, Steve Dalby, had this to say:
"The rights holders are still insisting ISPs should perform work on their behalf instead of addressing what we have always said is the root cause of the infringements – the limited accessibility to desirable content and the discriminatory and high cost of content in Australia. Infringements are a symptom – access is the problem."
As for the proposal that iiNET track its customers data, Dalby said that its not their responsibility to do so:
"iiNet won’t support any scheme that forces ISPs to retain data in order to allow for the tracking of customer behaviour and the status of any alleged infringements against them. Collecting and retaining additional customer data at this level is inappropriate, expensive and most importantly, not our responsibility.
It’s not iiNet’s job to play online police. The High Court spoke loud and clear in their verdict when they ruled categorically that ISPs have no obligation to protect the rights of third parties, and we’re not prepared to harass our customers when the industry has no clear obligation to do so."
The arguments for a six-strike system in the U.S. makes a little more sense than in Australia. U.S. consumers do have more choice when it comes to accessing inexpensive digital content for film and music. iiNET would probably be more willing to engage in talks with rights holders if Australian consumers were given access to new content at the same time, and same price, as other countries. There's plenty of business to be had if ISPs and rights holders worked together to provide easy and cheap access to content, but rights holders aren't exactly in the business of making it easy for consumers.