In the wake of its recent victory against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft in the Federal Court, iiNet has called for an independent third party to police internet copyright infringement.
In a white paper, entitled Encouraging Legitimate use of On-line Content (PDF) released this afternoon, iiNet laid out a proposal that would see copyright owners investigate alleged breaches of copyright over the internet using methods similar to those used by AFACT to determine breaches in the iiNet case. These content owners would then provide the results of their research to an independent body that would assess whether the evidence provided was credible enough to follow up with the internet service provider (ISP). If the evidence met the body's requirements, the ISP would provide the contact information of the alleged infringer to the body, which could issue notices or seek penalties for repeat infringers.
iiNet's proposed model for mediating piracy (Credit: iiNet)
iiNet proposed that since internet access is increasingly seen as a human right, these penalties should not include the total disconnection of an internet service. It used an analogy to back itself up, saying that a person found to have been caught speeding, say, once is not denied all access to transportation and proposed a similar system to that used for drivers where fines and demerit points are doled out to copyright infringers. Repeat offences may lead to the person's access being temporarily restricted under the proposal.
"iiNet has developed a model which addresses ISP concerns but one we think remains attractive to all participants, including the sustainable strategy of an impartial referee for the resolution of disputes and the issue of penalties for offenders," iiNet CEO Michael Malone said in a statement. "We believe that an independent umpire is the only way we can ensure natural justice and protect customer privacy, while allowing copyright owners their rights to pursue alleged infringers."
The funding for the independent body would be provided by the copyright holder, according to iiNet's proposal, with the costs for maintaining IP addresses and customer records falling to the ISPs.
Late last month, the full bench of the Federal Court dismissed AFACT's appeal of Justice Cowdroy's ruling that iiNet had not authorised its users to infringe copyright via sharing files with peer-to-peer technology.
Copyright experts agreed at the time that Justice Emmett's ruling paved the way for copyright holders to compel ISPs to act on notices of their users' copyright infringement.
Last week the Internet Industry Association announced it would immediately begin working on a new industry code of practice to deal with piracy.
Malone said the simplest way to reduce piracy would be for the studios to make their content more easily available and at a lower cost.
"People are crying out to access the studios' materials, so much so some are prepared to steal it," he said. "A more effective approach would be for the studios to make their content more readily and cheaply available online."