Australia’s largest ISPs have unsurprisingly backed a Communications Alliance scheme claimed to combat the growing problem of online copyright infringement, which lacks teeth. The alliance describes itself as a group of service providers, vendors, consultants and suppliers – but not copyright holders.
Its scheme, proposed in a discussion paper, is being pushed as an attempt to bring about an accord between ISPs – who some say have hitherto turned a blind eye to widespread pirating by some of their subscribers – and peeved copyright holder groups such as AFACT, not to mention composers and writers, none of whom are represented in the alliance.
The proposed scheme, involving an 18-month trial of sending people identified as pirates an “education notice”, is said to have been designed “to encourage a sustained and positive change in the behaviour of Internet users who engage in online activity that may be an infringement of copyright laws”.
If the pirates don’t stop, they may then receive up to three “warning notices”. If they still don’t stop their activities, they will be told their details may be passed on to a copyright holder, who may or may not take action under copyright infringement laws.
There is no suggestion that the ISPs involved might take any action to stop the piracy activities on their network.
This all comes about as AFACT tackles the issue in an appeal to the High Court against a decision by the Federal Court which narrowly favoured ISP iiNet.
The Communications Alliance proposal is available at commsalliance.com.au. Its scheme would require ISPs – in response to evidence provided by copyright holders – to forward “education and warning” notices to customers whose Internet accounts have been detected undertaking piracy activity.
But it seems few pirates would be likely to walk the plank: the plan does not provide for termination or suspension of consumers’ Internet accounts, nor for any punitive sanctions to be imposed on customers by ISPs; and gives consumers the right to appeal if they receive a notice but believe they have not done anything improper.
The proposal was developed by Communications Alliance and just five ISPs – Telstra BigPond, iiNet, Optus, iPrimus and Internode – with “collaboration” by AAPT, Ericsson Australia and the Internet Industry Association.
Lessening its likely impact, it doesn’t seem to have had a lot of input, if any, by the copyright holders.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland has threatened new legislation if a negotiated agreement to solve the problem can’t be reached.