No piracy on our broadband, Foxtel warns users

Before it has even launched its broadband service, pay TV provider Foxtel has promised to take steps to ensure that its customers aren't downloading copyright-infringing TV shows and films online.

Future customers on pay TV provider Foxtel's planned broadband service will face warnings from the company if they're caught sharing copyright-infringing TV shows and films online, the company has said.

Foxtel, which is owned by Telstra and News Corporation, is planning on launching a fixed-line broadband service bundled in with its traditional pay television product "soon".

As Australia's largest pay TV provider, with 2.6 million customers in the country, Foxtel holds a large amount of the content deals in Australia, including for highly infringed shows such as Game of Thrones and Mad Men. The company argued in its submission to the Australian government's online copyright infringement discussion paper (PDF), that Australians paying for those shows help pay for HBO to produce "more niche programs" such as Girls or Looking.

The company argued that such US shows are amongst the most infringed by Australians, despite the shows being fast-tracked and airing on Foxtel within hours of airing in the United States. Foxtel also said that a 10-day snapshot of torrents showed over 40,000 downloads over peer-to-peer services for just four of its own shows, with 57 percent of the downloads originating in Australia.

Foxtel said that users downloading infringing content on its own broadband service would face warnings from the company.

"Once Foxtel launches its broadband services, it will take reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringement by its subscribers," the company said.

Rights holders, including Foxtel, have argued that reasonable steps taken by ISPs in Australia should include a graduated response similar to the US copyright alert system implemented in 2013.

The US system sees ISPs sent out up to six alert notices to an account holder matched to an IP address downloading infringing content, and, after the sixth alert, that account has some limitation placed on it, with rights holders favouring a reduction in that account's download speed. Foxtel said the US system "is working" after 10 months, with 1.3 million alerts sent out to 722,820 customers, and only 3 percent reaching the second stage.

Other ISPs have resisted the US model, because they bear some of the cost of enforcing copyright on behalf of the rights holders, who stand to gain the most from any scheme.

iiNet argued in its submission that the US model didn't confirm any reduction in copyright infringement, and said that legitimate content is much more easily available in the US than in Australia.

"It is widely recognised that the supply of content in the US market is quite free, and does not compare well with the very restricted supply for Australian consumers," iiNet stated.

Foxtel cracking down on its own users' infringement would make it one of the only companies in Australia to undertake such a measure on its own, aside from Exetel and TPG, which are believed to still send out infringement notices to their customers.

The telecommunications industry has indicated that any graduated response scheme must encompass the entire telco industry, otherwise customers who are caught infringing with one provider could defect to another that doesn't comply with the scheme.

Foxtel missed the government's first deadline for responding to the discussion paper on September 1, instead providing its submission to the government on Friday, after the company had announced plans to drop the price of its basic pay TV package from AU$49 per month to AU$25 per month.