No SOPA for Australia: AG

No SOPA for Australia: AG

Summary: The Attorney-General's Department has answered Greens Party concerns that a Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), like that in the US, could find its way to Australia given time.


The Attorney-General's Department has answered Greens Party concerns that a Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), like that in the US, could find its way to Australia given time.

SOPA — which aims to introduce measures to battle online piracy — has lost support after a spate of online protests occurred this week, involving the likes of Wikipedia and Reddit blacking out to show their opposition of the Bill. However, it is set to be brought back to the table after changes have been made, and the somewhat watered-down PIPA Bill will also be voted on next week.

This week, Greens Party communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam urged the government to speak out against the Bill, saying that it would endanger the government's $35.9 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

"Has the Australian Government made any representation whatsoever to the US Government on this issue? Do they recognise that there will be little purpose in investing tens of billions of dollars in the NBN if the US copyright industry cripples the medium itself?" Ludlam asked.

Ludlam said that SOPA and PIPA are a "breathtaking overreach by US copyright interests", and that the Bill would "institutionalise far-reaching, unaccountable censorship in order to protect the commercial interests of a handful of powerful media companies".

"SOPA would block entire non-US websites in the United States as a response to select infringing material. This includes Australian sites, and the online operations of Australian businesses," Ludlam continued."Under SOPA, US courts could bar online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with allegedly infringing websites, bar search engines from linking to such sites and require internet service providers [ISPs] to block access to such sites."

When asked what the government's plans are regarding the Bill, the attorney-general's office said that it is aware of the debate in the US about the Bills, but that the government is not currently considering similar legislation.

"It is the government's preference for industry (content owners and internet services providers) to work together to develop a code to address the issue of online piracy," the statement from the attorney-general's office said.

It pointed to the discussions that have been going on between ISPs and copyright owners, such as film studios, which have been facilitated by the government. These discussions followed several rounds of a court battle between a conglomeration of film studios called the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and ISP iiNet. AFACT had sought to prove that iiNet authorises its users' alleged infringement of copyright.

Although iiNet won the original case and an appeal, the parties are still waiting for a High Court decision on the matter. It has put the spotlight on the responsibilities of ISPs to prevent copyright infringement. ISPs have proposed a process to discourage copyright infringers from downloading pirated content through the use of education and warning notices. However, the copyright owners have not agreed to the proposals.

The department said today that there would be another meeting of ISPs and copyright owners in February. Past meetings have come under fire for not including consumer organisations, with the government saying that it is too early in the discussions for consumers to be involved.

Last night at, Ludlam spoke again about SOPA, mentioning the meetings that the government hopes will work out the piracy issue.

"Isn't it interesting that the people that they've invited into that forum are the rights holders and carriers, and they appear to have left out the creative people who make the content and the audience ...The people who actually matter in that debate aren't in the room. They've invited the intermediaries and the people with commercial interests," he said.

"We should be in that room, in the copyright debate; otherwise, we are going to get some kind of dumbed-down Australian-flavoured SOPA — 12 months after it resolves itself in the United States, it'll pop up here; you can absolutely guarantee it."

He said that Australia has been lucky that there are "militant ISPs" and engineers who have stuck up for the interests of the population. "But we shouldn't take that for granted," he said.

Stilgherrian contributed to this article.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Piracy, Security, Telcos

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Finally, real discussion about piracy. Too long the internet has been the haven of content looters, leaving content creators unrewarded. As seen with Megaupload, the profits have been directed away from artists into the pockets of pirate techs. ISP's disregard for online abuse has lead to government having to step in. ISP's need to act like publican and refuse to serve the few that are over intoxicated.
    • ISP's need to kick people off the internet who are "over intoxicated" on what exactly?

      Over intoxicated on crappy American T.V. shows & the unintelligible hip-hop of Waka Flocka Flame?

      Let there be no mistake about what is going on here. The issue of online piracy is just a battle in larger war. The war is to keep the Internet from being under the control of a few rich individuals, corporations and corrupt governments.

      I would say that "online piracy" is currently more like "privateering" and will remain so until control (if you can call it that) of the Intenet rests firmly in the hands of the majority of its' users.

      So, until that day be commin', you all stand tall me hearties!. Arr!
    • Jshogun.

      You are a loser.

      Go lay on a busy road you piece of **** the world would be a better place

      Have a nice day :)
  • Oh Hai Rupert! How is your day going?
  • This article is disingenuous to say the least. The provisions of SOPA will apply to people outside the USA and we will be affected as well. Look at the guys in New Zealand fo god's sake.
    • The article is disingenuous? Or comments made by people quoted in the article are disingenuous? Please make it clear where your insults are directed.

      Hint #1: Do not imagine that journalists who write news stories agree with everything or even anything said by people quoted in those stories.

      Hint #2: "Provisions" of US laws cannot "apply" to people outside the US. However they could "affect" them. Unsloppify your language, please.
      • He is not wrong, all the innovative stuff comes from the US. It will effect everyone. Not to mention can pretty much take down anything they want.
  • jshgun
    i think your a little missguided here
    last time i looked at royalties for artists
    they where getting 10-15% from a sale
    itunes selling at 99 cents a song
    what are the artists reciving
    it is a joke your saying that money ir redirected to pirates.
    its the middle man and the retailer who are the ones that are **** the most about this when was the last time an artist came out and said oh i didnt get my money last month.
    havnt heard a word.only the middle man is **** so you go back to them and say hey i wnat a bigger slice of the pie or i take it off your hands and do it all myself.
    been proven 80% of all royalties are from music artists who tuor.
    tell the studios to stop paying shitloads of bs dollars to actors and get unknowns to do the rolls.
    you look at teh superman movies
    made 390,874,000
    and they paid an unknow actor
  • You don't get it, do you. You swallow the shpiel of the multinational middlemen, all their lawyers, agents, accountants and multiple hangers on and spit out their propoganda.

    Meantime some of the worlds biggest rap recording artists have started coming out in support of Megaupload. You see they record their product, place it on that site for a large % distribution cut and let their fans download it for free. They cut out the record company gougers, get a far higher cut from the file server company and please their fans.

    Thats why the record companies have supported the Megaupload bust, not because of the piracy, but because the system the rappers are using cuts them out...
  • This guy (Ludlam) gets more and more interesting all the time. Unfortunately, Australia is already in planning to sign an international SOPA in the form of ACTA (these moron's love their acronyms don't they?)

    What's scary is there is _no_ debate over this as the US have classed it as secret on the grounds of damage to national security. And here's the kicker... Australia signed it two months ago!
  • To shutdown any website, including zdnet, one has to only post a link to a copyright material - say Rupert's balls.
  • if iinet is responsible for customers infringing copyright laws then the Main roads department is responsiable for all the accidents that happen on our roads.