The Government Has Given ISPs And Copyright Owners A Deadline To Create An Online Piracy Code

Photo: Getty Images

Internet service providers (ISPs) and copyright owners have four months to create a code of conduct to deal with online piracy or face new rules imposed by the Federal Government.

The government will also create laws to enable a court to block overseas hosted websites shown to be facilitating online copyright infringement.

Cable TV operator Foxtel welcomed the government’s deicison, saying online piracy represents a huge threat to creative industries in Australia and around the globe.

“The people who run pirate sites are criminals who steal content from creators and profit from their theft,” says CEO Richard Freudenstein.

The issue of price and availability of legitimate content in Australia was a key factor raised in the majority of submissions to the Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper.

Australians are said to be prolific in illegally downloading current release television series. According to a CHOICE survey, one in three Australians have illegally downloaded out of frustration at the cost and availability of content.

These “pirates” are also more likely to support the content industry through legitimate purchases than other Australians.

In a letter to industry leaders, Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney General George Brandis say this is a dynamic issue, affected by changing technology and consumer behaviour.

The government is taking a light touch approach, what it calls a “least burdensome” way of responding to concerns about online copyright infringement, while protecting the interests of rights holders.

The government has asked ISPs and rights holders to develop a code which would be registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) under Part 6 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Telecommunications Act).

Under the code:

  • ISPs should take reasonable steps (including the development of an education and warning notice scheme) to deter online copyright infringement on their network, when they are made aware of infringing subscribers, in a manner that is proportionate to the infringement
  • inform consumers of the implications of copyright infringement and legitimate alternatives which provide affordable and timely content
  • providing appropriate safeguards for consumers
  • fairly apportioning costs as between ISPs and rights holders
  • ensuring smaller ISPs are not unfairly or disproportionately affected
  • include a process for facilitated discovery to assist rights holders in taking direct copyright infringement action against a subscriber after an agreed number of notices.

The government will force agreement if the industry code isn’t finished by April 8.

“The government has also decided to introduce legislation that will enable a court to order the blocking of overseas hosted websites that can be shown to be primarily for the purpose of facilitating online copyright infringement,” the ministers say.

The issue of price and availability of legitimate content in Australia was a key factor raised in the majority of submissions to the Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper.

“The government accepts that there is no single proven course of action to reduce levels of online copyright infringement and that as technology and consumer behaviour continues to change the options to respond to online copyright infringement will likely have to change,”the ministers say.

“We will be working closely with other countries to get a better understanding of levels of online copyright infringement and the effectiveness of different approaches to respond to the problem.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.