Conroy vows to tackle illegal file sharing

 

Government promises to "facilitate" a solution.

Federal communications minister Stephen Conroy has vowed to fight illegal file sharing head on in a report on the Digital Economy.

In a report unveiled at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney last night, Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, said the Government, among other promises, will "facilitate development of an appropriate solution to the issue of unauthorised file sharing".

"The Government recognises a public policy interest in the resolution of this issue," the report said. "A number of submissions received during the consultation phase for the development of this paper argued that a role for Government exists in addressing the apparent popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing of music and movies, without the necessary permissions of the relevant copyright owners".

The report goes on to outline submissions made to the department by various stakeholders.

"One solution proposed by copyright owners is a "three strikes" or "graduated response" proposal under which copyright owners would work together with ISPs to identify the ISP's customers who are suspected of unauthorised file sharing and the ISP would then send a notice on behalf of the copyright owner to that customer advising of this allegation".

This was, however, unpopular amongst many concerned about consumer rights.

"Several submissions were received which opposed this proposal for reasons including the lack of judicial oversight of administering sanctions based on private allegations, the lack of public transparency about the process and concern over consumer rights," the report said.

"The Government is currently working with representatives of both copyright owners and the Internet industry in an effort to reach an industry-led consensus on an effective solution to this issue."

The Government's efforts to find a solution to illegal file sharing comes as a landmark court case between The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and Internet Service Provider (ISP) iiNet battle over whether ISPs are responsible for preventing illegal file sharing. Senator Conroy has previously noted he is watching this case "with interest."

Tackling unauthorised file sharing was among many areas of focus for Conroy's department listed in the Future Directions paper.

The paper also covers off the Government's focus on improving digital literacy, access to Government information online, the enhancing of user trust in digital technologies, the building of the National Broadband Network, allocation of mobile spectrum and switchover to digital television.

The paper was developed in collaboration with industry and other stakeholders through a three-stage consultation process that began September last year.

It is a broad summary of the Government's aims in terms of the digital economy portfolio, without revealing any new initiatives to meet these aims.

The report has been made available to download in full here.


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