In response to Australian Government actions to curb online copyright infringement announced late last year, Australian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have come up with a draft graduated response system, now submitted to ACMA (the Australian Communication and Media Authority). Also known as the Copyright Notice Scheme, this system would see web users who access unauthorised content sent three letters. The prevailing wisdom is most people curtail infringing behaviour on receipt of the first notice, placing an emphasis on the value of education. The second ramps up the pressure and the third, yet to be specified, could involve personal details being handed over following a court order, which may permit right holders to sue. The third notice gives account holders the right to challenge if they think notices were sent incorrectly. ISPs would facilitate and not unreasonably obstruct this process, and there is no slowing or interference with internet access.
The ISPs response was essentially required of them in response to Government action to address this behaviour.
The background to this action is the release last August by the Australian Government of a discussion paper on online copyright infringement with proposals for action to curb piracy. This generated a large number of submissions from varied interest groups – you can read ours here. In December the Government issued a Statement with new measures requiring ISPs to take reasonable steps to reduce infringing behaviours. Principal of these is a requirement to develop a voluntary code within 4 months or face binding action by Government. This code has now been registered with the Government for their consideration. Costs, which are yet to be detailed and negotiated, are likely to be shared between the telcos and rights holders.
These measure would complement those contained in proposed Amendments to the Copyright Act, currently before the Parliament which we reported on recently in our conversation with Music Rights Australia. These would enable right holders to take action to block access to pirate sites whose primary purpose is to provide material which infringes copyright.
The Government’s motivation for these actions is their continued recognition and support for copyright protection as “an essential mechanism for ensuring the viability and success of creative industries by incentivising and rewarding creators”, and the recognition that technological change has substantially undermined this right.
For a broad overview of this subject you can read our article here which covers the issues, the cases for and against action, and unpacks some of the jargon.