Tuesday, 08 September 2015 13:59

Call for halt to introduction of ISP copyright code Featured

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Call for halt to introduction of ISP copyright code Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The federal government has again been called on to stop the process of implementing an ISP copyright code.  The Internet users rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia has confirmed it wants the process to be halted, with its call coming in the wake of the introduction of new anti-piracy website blocking laws.

In an appeal for the process to be stopped, the EFA said today that while it does not condone copyright infringement, international experience shows that copyright notice schemes are of “marginal value at best in addressing online copyright infringement.”

In calling for the government to halt the process of implementing an ISP copyright code, the EFA said work on the code should not proceed until the implementation of the new mandatory data retention obligations has been concluded.

EFA Executive Officer Jon Lawrence said the process should not continue until the government has conducted a “detailed cost-benefit analysis to ensure that it is not an unnecessary additional regulatory burden that will further harm competition in the sector and result in higher connectivity charges for Australians.”

According to the EFA, the majority of online copyright infringement in Australia is demonstrably driven by market failures, and the market is, finally, addressing those shortcomings.

Lawrence said 10 weeks have now passed since the “apparently urgent 'website-blocking' bill became law in Australia, yet we are still to see a single case presented.”

“The deadline for the ISP Copyright Code has now also passed and, as per previous attempts to find a consensus between the ISP industry and content distributors, the issue of who pays for notices to be sent to allegedly-infringing users remains unresolved.

Lawrence said the current government, “which is ostensibly committed to deregulation must accept the reality that finding a consensus on the cost burden of a copyright notice scheme is simply not possible.”

"It must also realise that legislating to impose such a scheme will only add another layer of unnecessary regulation on to Australia's ISP sector, which is already struggling with the government's overly-hasty and inadequately-prepared data retention legislation.

"Enough time and money has been wasted on the ISP Copyright Code. It's time for the government to get out of the way and allow the market to evolve."

Lawrence says the Australian video content market has been transformed this year with the introduction and “explosive growth of a number of excellent new streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) services.”

“As ACMA reports, 'almost two million Australians have subscribed to SVOD services since early 2015',” Lawrence says.

“It is therefore no surprise that Choice's research already shows a material decline (from 23% to 17%) in the number of respondents that regularly download infringing content, as well as reporting a massive 33% of respondents who are downloading 'much less often' since subscribing to streaming services.

“That's one-third of users whose reported behaviour has changed, in six months.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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