Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis has revealed the Government will implement a mandatory code of practice for internet piracy if the internet industry cannot agree on an acceptable voluntary scheme.
Speaking today on Adelaide radio on the issue of online piracy, Brandis said ISPs needed to take some responsibility for their customers downloading pirated material.
Brandis’ comments follow the recent release of the Australian Law Reform Commission's report into copyright and the digital economy, which recommended updating current ‘outdated’ copyright legislation and the implementation of more flexible ‘fair use’ copyright regime.
In response to the report Brandis said he “remains to be persuaded” on fair use and expressed his preference to combat the “scourge of online piracy” by ensuring content creators were protected through co-operation with ISPs.
He signalled the potential introduction of legislation to force ISPs to clamp down on online piracy via a graduated warning system to end-users.
Today he cemented his position and warned if a voluntary code of practice failed to eventuate, the Government would implement a mandatory scheme.
“If we can have a voluntary industry-based code of practice, that is always the best way to go,” Brandis told 5AA today.
“That will require the cooperation of the ISPs. But there is always the capacity, if that fails, for government to legislate.
“The Government will, during this term, be looking to make significant amendments to bring the Copyright Act up to date. I would prefer that those amendments not include a mandatory scheme, but if a voluntary scheme can’t be developed, then they will.”
He said that while ISPs were not complicit in the piracy acts of their customers, the service providers did need to take responsibility for users’ actions.
“The ISPs, in my view, do need to take some responsibility for this because they provide the facility which enables this to happen. I’m not suggesting for a moment that they’re complicit in it,” he said.
“Some of the ISPs have been very, very good and have worked with government and with other arts industry sectors on a collaborative basis to try and develop solutions to the problem.”
Similar discussions around a voluntary piracy scheme between content owners, ISPs and the former Labor Government failed to produce a solution after iiNet walked out on the meetings following its High Court win against the film industry, which absolved it of liability for the copyright infringement of its users.