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Australian Government Hints At 'Three-Strikes' Regime, Copyright Law Reforms

Posted by: , 11:08 AEDT, Sat February 15, 2014

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Three-strikes and domain blocking could become a reality under as Australian government proposes copyright reforms
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Image/Photo Credit: LollyKnit @ Flickr, CC

In the clearest signal yet that the recently elected conservative government of Australia will be kowtowing to the wishes of the copyright lobby, Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis has issued remarks that calls for the implementation of a graduated response by Internet service providers (ISPs).

Speaking at the Australian Digital Alliance forum in Canberra this week, Brandis called on reforms of existing copyright laws, parts of which he says are "comically outdated", to be more capable of confronting new copyright threats.

Part of the new proposed changes would place an impetus on ISPs to police their own subscribers for infringing activities, issuing warnings or even suspending the account of repeat offenders.

"The government will be considering possible mechanisms to provide a 'legal incentive' for an internet service provider to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks. This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy," Brandis told audiences at the forum.

Brandis also repeated the "infringement is theft" line, an analogy often used by pro-copyright interests in Hollywood.

"The illegal downloading of Australian films online is a form of theft. I say Australian films, but of course, the illegal downloading of any protected content is a form of theft," he said.

The call for a graduated response regime, colloquially known as a "three-strikes" law, comes even after similar experiments in France have yielded almost no positive results. Critics argue the huge cost of the regime, costs which will be passed onto the consumer, do not address the real causes of piracy, such as the lack of viable legal options.

Attorney-General Brandis also proposed giving the Federal Court new powers to impose injunction on ISPs to block offending websites. Again, recent developments, including a decision by a Dutch court, have cast doubt on the effectiveness of these censorship measures.

Brandis also repeated a call for a fair use regime to be implemented in Australia, which would prevent certain actions, such as performing backups of digital content and format shifting, to be classified as infringing activities.


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