Aug 28, 2014

The foreign copyright cartel goes gunning for Aussie ISPs

The copyright cartel's local front wants to impose a draconian anti-piracy scheme on local ISPs, a paper obtained by Crikey reveals.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

A draft copyright industry response to the federal government's proposed crackdown on file sharing urges a compulsory internet surveillance scheme and a ferocious attack on Australian internet service providers that would deem them responsible for piracy regardless of their actions and impose the copyright industry's enforcement costs on them. The draft paper, obtained by Crikey, has been prepared in response to Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's call for submissions on addressing file sharing, revealed by Crikey in July. The document was prepared jointly by the "Australian Screen Association", "Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association" and the "Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia" -- all of them front groups for foreign studios -- and groups representing local cinema operators. The paper claims Australians are the world's worst content pirates, "despite the fact that the content industries have ensured the ready availability of online digital platforms and education of consumers on where they can acquire legitimate digital content". But it is Australian ISPs that the foreign-owned cartel are gunning for. The paper demands that the Copyright Act be altered to automatically assume ISPs are authorising infringements of copyright, which would "deem authorisation to occur where an ISP fails to take reasonable steps -- which are also defined inclusively to include compliance with a Code or Regulations -- in response to infringements of copyright it knows or reasonably suspects are taking place on its network". This would mean ISPs could be held responsible for copyright infringement even if they didn't know it was taking place. The paper also demands that ISPs implement an internet surveillance and censorship scheme via the imposition of an industry code of conduct based on the US Copyright Alert Scheme. Under that scheme, participating ISPs agree to monitor the internet usage of IP addresses flagged by copyright holders (with no independent oversight to ensure they're correct), block them from reaching certain sites or even hijack their browsers to prevent them from using the internet. ISPs also agree to hand over user details to the copyright cartel for prosecution. If ISPs prove unwilling to embrace the American scheme via an industry code of conduct, the paper says, it should be imposed by legislation. The paper also proposes that ISPs pay to implement such a scheme, saying "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". It is also gung-ho for site-blocking, claiming (contrary to extensive experience overseas) that blocking is effective -- probably why the Pirate Bay now has double the traffic of three years ago -- and that overblocking isn't a problem, but maintains ISPs should be the ones responsible for the costs of blocking sites at the request of the copyright cartel. And unsurprisingly, the cartel wants to block any extension of the "safe harbour" scheme proposed in the government paper. The funniest part of the paper, however, is its response to the question "What rights should consumers have in response to any scheme or ‘reasonable steps’ taken by ISPs or rights holders? Does the legislative framework need to provide for these rights?", to which it devotes six paragraphs explaining that consumers should have no rights, because the proposed US scheme has worked perfectly.

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6 thoughts on “The foreign copyright cartel goes gunning for Aussie ISPs

  1. Ulor Boxo

    The copyright industry seems to exist in – not a parallel reality – but a reality at right angles to this reality.

  2. Dogs breakfast

    I’m with Ulor.

    What I find so demeaning is that the Liberal coalition should be the party defending and repsecting the rights of the individual, and they seemingly can’t rush quickly enough into selling our privacy rights to the highest (USA) bidder.

    That the cost will be borne by the ISP’s (i.e. us) is just the salt in the wound.

  3. SusieQ

    “despite the fact that the content industries have ensured the ready availability of online digital platforms and education of consumers on where they can acquire legitimate digital content”.
    I read this statement and just about laughed out loud – who are they kidding? Yes, we can acquire stuff ‘legitimately’ – 6 months after its out everywhere else and at triple the price.
    Just who is the Fed Govt looking after in this matter, its own citizens or foreign owned media companies?

  4. Brian Williams

    We can only hope that the industry’s final submission is as laughable as this draft, and that it gets wide exposure out in the real world when finally released, as the public simply won’t wear it, and it will struggle to get through the senate.

    However, it’s also entirely possible that they’ve come up with this bizarre proposal as an ambit claim, in cahoots with Brandis and his staff, so that Brandis can deny them the weirdest bits but keep most of it intact, and then try to pretend that he’s being the reasonable one and we should accept 75% of it.

  5. 2bobsworth

    So, Team Tony is doing the bidding of overseas corporations to squeeze overpriced extra dollars out of USAstralian peasants. Don’t mention 21stC Fox ,to Murdoch its just payback business.
    This is just Brandis hard at work to make amends to IAP and Rupert for failing to get TV bigotry news sanctioned ready for a new outrage News infortainment chanel, because he and
    Turnbull are still on track to change the Cross Media Rules before the next election.
    Turnbull again, delivering a quick connection for Foxtell and partner Telstra to nice new NBN nodes,
    and to sweeten the pot, a little sabotage with ABC and SBS budgets to calm the Murdoch camp.

  6. Phnud

    Ah, the free market. Business loves it…until it doesn’t work their way.

    You know, I wish I had the business or social standing to demand that the Australian Government legislate in favour of consumers across a whole range of sectors. But I don’t, and corporations do.

    The free market, as we all know, is a furphy.

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