Australian attorney-general gives ISPs piracy ultimatum

Australian attorney-general gives ISPs piracy ultimatum

Summary: ISPs should work toward a voluntary scheme to crack down on online piracy or face new legislation when the Copyright Act is overhauled, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has said.


Australian Attorney-General George Brandis wants internet service providers (ISPs) and the content industry to re-establish discussions around implementing a voluntary graduated response scheme, or ISPs will face being forced to comply through the planned overhaul of the Copyright Act.

Earlier this month, Brandis announced that the government is considering implementing a scheme that would require ISPs to issue notices to users who copyright owners have alleged have infringed on their works through downloading TV shows or movies through BitTorrent, for example.

He said at the time that the logistics of such a system still need to be worked out, including, importantly, who would pay for such a system. He also said that he would like to see a voluntary scheme put in place, rather than the government legislating enforcement of copyright.

The former government tried over a number of years to implement a voluntary scheme through a series of discussions with content owners and ISPs. The meetings ultimately came to a halt when iiNet, which defeated the content industry in the High Court, walked out of the meetings.

The new Coalition government now appears to be putting the meetings back on the agenda. Speaking on radio in Adelaide this morning, Brandis said that he would look to restart the meetings.

"What I want in the first instance is to get all the relevant stakeholders around the table. There were talks during the period of the Labor government in trying to address this problem. They seemed to go nowhere. So I do want to restart this process with the ISPs and the rights holders and content providers and government."

The attorney-general gave the strongest indication yet that a voluntary scheme was the only way that ISPs could avoid having legislation brought in forcing them to police copyright infringement.

"If we can have a voluntary industry based code of practice, that is always the best way to go. I haven't given up on the possibility of developing a voluntary industry-based code of practice. That will require the cooperation of the ISPs," Brandis said.

"But there is always the capacity, if that fails, for government to legislate."

The Australian Law Reform Commission recommended a major overhaul of copyright law, including the introduction of a fair use regime that makes it easier for people to use copyright-protected works without first getting permission from the owner. Brandis said in his speech earlier this month that he remains to be convinced that Australia needs a fair use system, but told listeners in Adelaide that the Copyright Act would be overhauled, with the potential for graduated response to be included.

"The government will, during this term, be looking to make significant amendments to bring the Copyright Act up to date. I would prefer that those amendments not include a mandatory scheme, but if a voluntary scheme can't be developed, then they will," he said.

Brandis said that downloading a video without paying for it "is an act of theft, it's pure and simple", and said ISPs have a responsibility to reduce infringement.

"The ISPs, in my view, do need to take some responsibility for this, because they provide the facility which enables this to happen. I'm not suggesting for a moment that they're complicit in it. Now, some of the ISPs have been very, very good and have worked with government and with other arts industry sectors on a collaborative basis to try and develop solutions to the problem. I know that David Thodey of Telstra, for example, has been a very constructive and helpful participant in this discussion," he said.

Much of the attention around Australia's high rate of copyright infringement has recently focused on the new season of Game of Thrones. Foxtel has exclusive rights to the fourth season of the show in Australia, and, unlike previous seasons, the episodes will not be available to purchase on iTunes immediately after each episode airs.

To counter the blow back Foxtel has received for the deal, the company today announced that customers subscribing to the Foxtel Play desktop and mobile app can access the Showtime package of channels for AU$10 extra per month for the three months of the show's airing between April and June, for a total price of AU$35 per month, a saving of AU$15 per month, until prices go back up to AU$25 for the package after three months.

Foxtel also announced that its video-on-demand movie service Presto will launch on March 13 for AU$19.99 per month, with a one-month introductory price of AU$4.99.

Telstra CEO David Thodey said earlier this month that Presto's original launch date in 2013 was missed due to software integration issues.

Topics: Piracy, Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Only Microsoft or Mac

    All the computers in this family are Linux based. So all the above is useless.
  • Corporate greedy fascism tries to have more houses and cars in their garage

    Corporate greedy fascism tries to have more houses and cars in their garage
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    Jiří Pavelec
  • hypercrisy! Labor = Media laws bad, Coalition Party = crackdown is GOOD.

    Reminds me of Hogan Heroes this gov in so many ways....

    "Or else"...... Ultimatum...

    This is a reverse of what Labor tried on the Media, now it's Coalition Party in the room, and they smell.
  • Here we go again

    First it was illegal or imoral content, now it is blockbusters.

    ISPs can't block, not really, as people will find a way around it. That is how the web was designed to be. All it'll do is upset voters.

    The content owners have to accept the old way of doing things is over and find a new business model. People will not accept being ripped off by them anymore.
  • Wanna laugh?

    If you read the article with a German accent, it's really funny.
    *Vee haf vays off making you volunteer.*

    Make sure to picture Australian Attorney-General George Brandis wearing a Gestapo uniform and slapping a riding crop against his jackboot and you'll probably wet yourself (just a little) like I did.

    As far as "downloading a video without paying for it "is an act of theft, it's pure and simple"", it's more accurate to say downloading a video is more like finding money on the street (since money rarely floats through the ether in my neighbourhood for me to grab it). Sure, I look around to see if the rightful owner (whether it's a pensioner or a megalomaniacal studio, 'cuz you've just got to do the right thing) has dropped said money or movie, but if there's no one there I rely on the Common Law of "finders keepers".

    Of course, if someone goes to a place of business and pinches a DVD, I suggest that "is an act of theft, it's pure and simple".
    Sue Parker
  • This is what Murdoch paid for

    This is part of the deal made with Murdoch before the election. Why don't they do something about the cost of music, movies and software in Australia where we generally pay twice the price as anywhere else?
  • A Voluntary Agreement is Unlikely

    because the ISPs and content industry have already spent years discussing this to death.

    Either Brandis sucks it up and introduces the legislation which he wants and risks having the Senate reject it or he keeps quiet because he isn't doing anything constructive or more effective than the previous Attorney Generals.
  • Brandis is the thief.

    If my memory serves me correctly George "Mr Magoo" Brandis claimed on his taxpayer funded entitlement expenses to attend his personal friends wedding. It's also quite OK for him to spend $14,000 on books and magazines and then spend another $16,000 on a book case to put them in. All this he claims on his entitlements. Well at least he doesn't steal the material on line, he would rather steal it from the taxpayer.
    What a pompous, little twerp of a man he is. Joe hockey is very free with the taxpayer's dollars when it comes to spending it on himself and his politician mates. I bet politicians entitlements aren't in his commission of audit. Hypocrites.
    I wonder how much money Murdoch will slip Brandis for executing hid orders so promptly or will he just give him a position on one of his boards on a nice big fat salary with entitlements of course.
  • So..

    So they have to 'Volunteer' but if they dont they will be forced to? ..thats not volunteering.
  • Let's not call it Piracy. Let's call it fightback.

    Australia has a problem. It's known as GEO-BLOCKING. Why is it a problem? Because it allows non-Australian companies to force Australian Consumers to pay sky-high surcharges for services other countries receive, in some cases, for free.
    Do Australian Consumers like paying these surcharges?
    Would Australians pay the equivalent their US or UK counterparts pay?
    An emphatic yes.
    What should the politicians do?
    Agree on a bi-partisan approach to remove all geo-blocking and allow Australians to be treated as equals of US and UK consumers.
  • Bye Bye Brandis!

    This Brandis bloke will find himself out on his ear in the next election. A poisoned chalice, as Stephen Conroy found out to his horror!
    Rabbit Ears
  • government supplied our roads

    I am going to sue them for the tosser that T boned my car last year. It must be the governements responsibility as they provide and maintain the roads that made my cars write off possible.