Australia Content Industry Pushing For New Internet Laws


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Australia content owners and ISP executives met last Wednesday in Sydney to hammer out potential laws and policies in response to content piracy.

The meeting, led by Roger Wilkins, secretary of the Attorney-General’s office, sought to create a draft proposal that would combat piracy while being acceptable to both industries and the government according to the Financial Review.

The content industry was pushing a graduated response scheme, like the policy that may soon be implemented in the U.S. It will require ISPs to send infringement notices to customers that have been found pirating content over BitTorrent. They claim that educating customers is one of the best ways to combat piracy.

While similar legislation has been passed in Britain and New Zealand, Australian film representatives are arguing that the cost of the graduated response scheme is too high.

A source familiar with the discussions said the content industry was also wanting to push the responsibility, as well as the cost, of operating the graduated response system onto ISPs.

ISPs have a beef with the potential laws as well. They feel that any policy enacted in the country should be forced onto all ISPs. They feel that if it’s voluntary, those that comply will lose customers to competing ISPs.

These potential laws are frightening as they have the potential to end up like France’s current system which has repeat offenders losing access to the Internet.

Thankfully, both sides in the Australian debate seem to agree that terminating Internet access is the wrong way to go.

If the two industries can come to a consensus, the Attorney-General’s department can put out a draft proposal for public consideration.

The content industry in Australia is pushing for this new policy instead of waiting for a decision in a current High Court case between Australian ISP, iiNet, and Hollywood movie studios.

The studios accused iiNet of intentionally letting customers download pirated films. Unfortunately for the movie studios, two lower courts have already found in favor of iiNet. The High Court judgment may happen in the first half of this year.

If the talks break down, a source said the content industry would try to issue infringement notices to ISPs and launch new litigation.

No date has been set for the next meeting between the two, but we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on these and other meetings between the Internet and content industries.