Friday, 16 February 2018 08:10

Govt opens review into efficacy of copyright law

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The Australian Government is seeking feedback to ascertain the effectiveness of the process that was put in place in 2015 to lessen the incidence of downloading of copyrighted material.

In 2015, a bill that passed into law made it possible for copyright holders to apply to a court to block websites that provided links to copyrighted material.

The efficacy of the measure — the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 — was supposed to have been reviewed after 18 months.

The Department of Communications and Arts, which is carrying out the consultation, says the review was delayed to allow more evidence to surface, the website TorrentFreak reported.

In December 2016, a number of ISPs were issued orders by the Australian Federal Court to block The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, SolarMovie, plus many proxy and mirror services.

The review asks three questions of stakeholders:

  • How effective and efficient is the mechanism introduced by the Online Infringement Amendment?
  • Is the application process working well for parties and are injunctions operating well, once granted?
  • Are any amendments required to improve the operation of the Online Infringement Amendment?

As to the degree to which the law has curbed downloading, the government had this to say:

"The Department is aware of evidence correlating a reduction in copyright infringement in Australia with the introduction of the Online Infringement Amendment. Kantar Public conducted research for the Department showed that downloading fell slightly from 2015 to 2017.

"The same research showed a 5% to 10% decrease from 2015 to 2017 in individuals consuming any unlawful content across movies, music and television, although there was a slight increase for video games.

"The Department is aware that other factors — such as the increasing availability of television, music and film-streaming services and of subscription gaming services — may also contribute to falling levels of copyright infringement.

"The Kantar Public research showed consumption of digital content by streaming is rising across all categories, particularly in television and film. The findings of the Kantar Public report are broadly consistent with other research into this area."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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