Labor will not stand in the way of an expansion of site blocking laws aimed at curbing internet piracy, though not all opposition MPs were pleased with the party position.
The government introduced the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018 only six days ago and it has already passed the House of Representatives and been sent to the Senate.
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus provided extra detail on the new powers that the bill will afford rights holders if it also passes muster in the Senate.
In addition to forcing search engines to remove results that point to pirated content, the bill proposes to make it harder for sites targeted with web blocks to skirt them.
“This bill will also allow the courts to issue more flexible injunctions that can be adapted to maintain a blocking order without the applicant having to return to court for a new injunction when pirate sites change addresses or access pathways,” Dreyfus said.
“These adaptable injunctions will provide for the blocking of additional domain names, IP addresses and search results, by agreement with the copyright owner and the service provider.”
The bill, if passed, will also make more sites targetable, including so called “cyberlockers”.
“This bill will allow injunctions to be sought to block access to sites with the primary purpose or the primary effect of infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright,” Dreyfus said.
“This addition of the words 'primary effect' is a significant expansion of the scope of the site-blocking scheme, which had been limited to sites with the primary purpose of infringing copyright only.
“Stakeholders had been concerned that new websites such as cyberlocker sites, which are frequently used for copyright infringement through file sharing of music, movies and TV shows but which it is difficult to prove exist for that primary purpose, fell outside the [existing site blocking] scheme.”
Dreyfus and other Labor MPs said that the party was “pleased that the protection of copyright is an area of bipartisan agreement.”
However, at least one Labor MP - Ed Husic - made it clear he had reservations about the bill.
“We support this bill, but the problem is that the bloated, greedy, resistant-to-change rights holders will always refuse to reform in this space,” Husic said.
“Copyright reform is used as their way to shield themselves from the modern era, to shield themselves from new ways of doing things.
“The internet is not a challenge to rights holders; the mentality of rights holders to move with the times is the biggest challenge to rights holders in this country.
“Rights holders think that, by constantly using legal mechanisms through this place and elsewhere, piracy will disappear. The reality is that piracy is a reflection of a market failure.”
Husic said he did not “excuse, condone or support piracy” but at the same time he did not “support regulatory hallucinogens like this” bill.
He questioned how many more times rights holders would be able to lobby amendments, rather than fix their business models.
“Let's support this bill, but let's not support this sort of camouflaging of reality that exists where the rights holders don't do anything about their business model,” Husic said.
“They just ring the bell and get us to rush in here with another bill about piracy while they don't actually keep step with modern times.
“It's just inconceivable that we continue to allow this to occur.”