iiNet calls on consumer fight back to piracy plans

iiNet calls on consumer fight back to piracy plans

Summary: iiNet has urged users to rise up and complain to Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull over plans to crack down on online copyright infringement.


iiNet has urged its customers to lobby the Australian government over proposals to implement a new scheme to crack down on online copyright infringement.

The ISP knows, more than almost any other company in Australia, the persistence of what iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby calls the Hollywood Studios. The lobby group of film studios, known then as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, took iiNet to court in 2008 alleging that it had authorised its users infringement by not acting on notices sent by the studios about users' infringement.

iiNet won at every step of the case, ultimately defeating AFACT in the High Court in 2012. Since then, discussions between the government, rights holders, and ISPs have been stalled, until February this year, when Attorney-General George Brandis said he would look to introduce a mandatory online copyright infringement crackdown scheme if the industry couldn't come up with a voluntary regime.

ZDNet revealed last week that in discussions between the Communications Department and the Attorney-General's Department, the government is most likely looking to pursue a "graduated response" scheme that involves sending out infringement/education notices to users in the first instance, followed by tougher responses for repeat infringements. In other parts of the world where such schemes operate, it can involve fines, bandwidth throttling, or disconnection.

Emails between AFACT, now the Australian Screen Association, and the Attorney-General's Department shows that the lobby group is still working hard to get its preferred scheme for copyright infringement up and running, which would include notification and "injunctive relief".

The Communications Department appears to have a more pragmatic view of the issue, highlighting that any scheme will also need to ensure that there is access to legitimate content, and fair pricing for that content.

In a blog post today, Dalby said that the fundamental difference between iiNet's position and that of the rights holders is that iiNet wants to address the cause, not just the symptom.

"The Hollywood Studios have been relentlessly lobbying the Australian Government on a range of heavy-handed solutions, from a 'three strikes' proposal, through to website filtering — none of which take consumers' interests into account," he said.

"The studios wont pay for this scheme, instead they expect ISPs to pay for the infringement notice process, resulting in increased charges for our customers, even those who subscribe to legal sources of content."

He said ISPs do not profit from copyright infringement because while the average iiNet customer uses 20 percent of their monthly download quota, those who use BitTorrent use close to 100 percent, ultimately costing iiNet more to provide the service.

Dalby said that customers who are concerned about the proposals should contact Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as well Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare, and Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam.

"We’re still holding out hope that the Australian Government, the Hollywood Studios and other rights holders will deliver a positive solution to the ongoing issue of piracy," Dalby said.

"Until that time, we'll continue to push for a better future for Australian content users, one removed from the constraints being discussed in Canberra."

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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  • Call it free advertising!

    In Australia, I am entitled to record live TV for time-shifting purposes. The ABC and SBS go one step further by allowing legitimate streaming of "off-air" content through iView. Although I could record the material at the time of transmission, the ABC has put new security on its flash streaming presumably to prevent saving the stream to the hard drive. This has become a source of constant annoyance because instead of a smooth stream, I now have stutter-vision, and "QI" with a thirty-second gap mid-sentence just isn't the same! Yet, with Digital TV's constant sound dropouts (up to three per minute), I would rather the lower quality picture on the PC with continuous sound.

    If someone accesses any "prohibited" material through my wi-fi (passworded), I accept no liability for that person's actions and it is unreasonable to expect me to do so. Nor am I prepared to pay excessive fees to an Internet Access Provider just to monitor my usage in on the look out for downloading.

    While free-lance copying and sharing is going on around us, consider it ADVERTISING. If such the crackdown on such behavior becomes too severe, then free-lance copying will go underground with heavy encryption just like kiddy-porn. The police will be wasting huge resources chasing a suspected paedophile download, only to discover it's an ancient low-resolution episode of "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em".

    If I hear a new piece of music that I like (from someone else), I'm very likely to go out and buy the CD (EMI has made $thousands out of me because of my Blondie fanaticism, yet the band members have received stuff all). The same applies to movies----rather than fight with "Digital Rights Management", I have more DVDs than the average Video Rental store. Some of those DVDs are now "out of production" which means I HAVE to be a home-pirate, and back up those discs because they are irreplaceable.

    The Distribution Industry (which is what AFACT really represents), should be cracking down on the commercial pirates who sell their wares to unsuspecting public who think they're buying a legitimate product.

    There is a 1980-produced mini-series of "Brave New World" which is superior to the 1996 movie. No amount of internet shopping will turn up a copy. It is only available as a torrent, and that is an upload from a U-matic video (complete with tracking errors and fuzzy sound) of the original BBC broadcast. Try finding a DVD of the theatrical release of "Dune" and you will have the same problem.
  • Politicians in the Pocket of Greedy Business

    Good on iiNet and ISP standing up to this nonsense. It just proves to me that most politicians when the come to power have to pay the piper or those who contribute to their election, and the cretin Turnbull is no different.

    Rather than address the problem as Treknology has mentioned they feel that crippling the internet and ISP will solve it. I have lost count of the number of DVDs and iTunes songs I have bought because I had some access to either a published or pirated version. But I acknowledge that won't carry weight but it is at the heart of the issue.

    Those that own the rights, and many times not the authors or the artists would to look up the music or creations and not make them available. Just about anyone who thinks about it, and to his everlasting credit, Steve Jobs was one, who said that if you make anything affordable everyone will buy it and there is no need for piracy.

    But the greed and stupid politicians are unable to fathom such simple logic and continue to layer stupid regulations on stupid regulations killing the very essence of the modern technology that has achieved so much - the internet. Mr Turnbull think for goodness sake.