Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Film companies want US-style system to penalise downloaders

Film companies want US-style system to penalise downloaders

The copyright industry's response to the government's proposal to curb the unauthorised downloading of online content remains the same as it was years and years ago: it wants everyone else to take responsibility, and wants to reap the rewards.

The 43-page draft of the industry's response to an online copyright infringement draft circulated by the Attorney-General George Brandis and the Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull was leaked by the online news website Crikey on Thursday. The ministers had sought submissions in response to their draft.

The response is from the usual suspects who are fronts for American movie giants - the Australian Screen Association (ASA), the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA), the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA), the National Association of Cinema Operators (NACO) and the Australian Independent Distributors Association (AIDA).

The government itself had indicated that it supported laws which would invalidate the 2012 High Court ruling in the case brought against ISP iiNet, which held that the service providers are not responsible for copyright violations that take place on their services.

The copyright industry backs this wholeheartedly and would like legislation in place to make the ISP solely responsible for policing, reporting and preventing infringements. "Copyright owners would pay their own costs of identifying the infringements and notifying these to the ISP, while ISPs would bear the costs of matching the IP addresses in the infringement notices to subscribers, issuing the notices and taking any necessary technical mitigation measures," the draft says.

The industry essentially wants the American system to be put in place in Australia - one where the ISP issues notices, slows down connections, and plays the role of enforcer.

The copyright industry notes that it cannnot sue individuals as this is not a practical solution. Other people have to do the dirty work.

The draft raises the fact that under international treaties - the Digital Agenda Act, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the US-Australia free trade agreement - Australia has obligations to act to curb the downloading of content. Though not mentioned, there are a large number of clauses in the Trans Pacific Partnershp Agreement, which is being negotiated, that make similar demands.

ISPs would be expected to reduce bandwidth for those who download content that is deemed to be unauthorised, block websites which host such content, limit the web acivity of offending subscribers and force them to do an educational tutorial on copyright.

The retention of web data for two years, again proposed by the government, will help the cause of the copyright industry. It will not help anyone else as pointed out previously.

Rather gratuitously, the copyright industry draft says that it does not propose the cutting off of offenders. But it does not go into detail as to what use an internet connection running at dial-up speeds would be in this day and age.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.