iiNet urges consumers to lobby govt on piracy changes

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iiNet urges consumers to lobby govt on piracy changes

No to website blocking, graduated warning.

Internet service provider iiNet has urged its customers to petition against the Australian Government’s proposed changes to copyright legislation.

In a post on the iiNet blog today, chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby called on iiNet customers to ‘make their voices known’ to the ministers considering changes to copyright law.

Potential legislative changes under consideration include forcing ISPs to block websites and introduce a three-strikes graduated response system when a user is accused of pirating copyright-protected material.

“We’re still holding out hope that the Australian Government, the Hollywood Studios and other rights holders will deliver a positive solution to the ongoing issue of piracy,” Dalby said in the post.

“Until that time, we’ll continue to push for a better future for Australian content users, one removed from the constraints being discussed in Canberra.”

The legislative changes are being considered as a result of the release of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report into copyright and the digital economy.

The 18-month study was ordered by the former Labor Government following the landmark online copyright lawsuit between iiNet and a number of Hollywood-backed studios. 

Attorney-General George Brandis has revealed the Government was considering forcing ISPs to co-operate in enforcement against piracy via graduated warnings to end users.

"The government will be considering possible mechanisms to provide a legal incentive for an internet service provider to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks," Brandis said.

"This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy. This is a complex reform proposal, and how it is paid for is one of the principal unresolved issues."

In today's blog post, Dalby said the graduated response system had been unsuccessfully attempted in a number of other countries and had not reduced piracy or increased legitimate sales. 

Similarly, customers would find ways to access blocked websites should the Government decide to restrict access to file-sharing sites, Dalby said.

Such a scheme would merely result in increased charges for customers if the current proposal to make ISPs pay for the infringement notice process is approved, Dalby said, as ISPs would be forced to pass on costs to customers.

“Australians want their content at the same time as the rest of the world. It isn’t that our customers don’t want to pay for content, it’s that they want to be able to access content at the same time as their Facebook friends or Twitter followers,” Dalby said.

“We think that content should be made available to Australians at a fair price and at the same time as it is available elsewhere.”

He urged users to contact Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull with their concerns. 

The Attorney-General's Department has been contacted for comment.

Balanced by increased availability of content?

Dalby said iiNet had repeatedly proposed a model whereby any anti-file sharing measures would be balanced by more content being made available for consumers - a proposal he claims the Attorney-General's department has ignored.

"We'd like there to be a quid pro quo for Australian consumers," he told iTnews.

"So if there are to be some sort of punitive measures put in place, it would be balanced by increased availability of the content the users are seeking to access through alternative means."

Dalby said the department had given "no visible response" to the suggestion.

"It has been raised repeatedly. They ignore our comments."

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