iiNet proposes demerit system for alleged pirates

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iiNet proposes demerit system for alleged pirates

Calls for "independent body" to police allegations.

ISP iiNet has proposed the establishment of an "independent body" to handle allegations of copyright infringement against internet users, with the power to issue demerit points and fines for breaches.

The ISP today released a discussion paper [pdf] outlining the proposal as debate raged in industry circles on how best to address internet piracy on internet networks.

Rather than resurrecting an industry code favoured by the Internet Industry Association, iiNet sought the creation of a more powerful - potentially Government-backed - regulatory authority to act as an intermediary between rights holders, ISPs and internet users.

The body would handle evidence of alleged infringement from rights holders, investigate and determine whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant sanctions against the account holder.

It would also handle any dispute resolution that arose from the allegations or sanctions.

However, iiNet argued that sanctions against users should not include cutting off their internet - something the full bench of the Federal Court judged to be a reasonable step when it handed down an appeal verdict in a copyright case between iiNet and the film industry last month.

Rather, iiNet proposed a system of demerit points and fines similar to that used for traffic offences.

"Infringements can be ranked as minor (say, single instances), major (say multiple instances of different files) or serious (at a commercial level) - each level having prescribed penalties," the ISP stated.

"Repeat infringements may require further definition - say a minimum period of one week between detections, or examples of sharing multiple files.

"A scale of fines can be established, relative to the economic loss represented, and demerit points could also be awarded in line with the severity of the infringements."

Breaching a set amount of demerit points could see users hauled before the courts "or possibly shaping of peer to peer traffic", iiNet stated.

Although a solid conclusion was not drawn in the paper, the inference was that rights holders should pay the lion's share of the costs to operate the body.

iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby told iTnews that the body's ongoing costs could be supplemented by revenues from fines meted out to internet users.

He repeated assertions that ISPs should not be forced to police alleged infringements or pick up the tab for it.

"The telco industry is not keen on being the policeman or the [organisation] applying the penalty [to users]," Dalby said.

Dalby said the independent body was a "halfway solution - a compromise" between the positions of the rights holders and ISPs.

Both parties have indicated they have no desire to pursue individuals accused of copyright infringement through the courts.

iiNet's contention was that individual pursuit should still occur (as opposed to pursuing ISPs), but via the independent body.

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