Turnbull puts onus on content owners in piracy war

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Turnbull puts onus on content owners in piracy war

Content must be made more available and affordable.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on content owners to help limit copyright infringment by making material more widely and affordably available for Australian audiences.

Turnbull's comments come in stark contrast to a discussion paper released by himself and Attorney-General George Brandis this week, which proposed amending legislation to make internet service providers legally responsible for their customers' copyright infringement, as well as forcing them to block certain websites through court orders. 

The paper similarly looked to overturn the 2012 High Court judgment which found ISP iiNet was not liable for its customers' copyright infringements.

Turnbull had welcomed the iiNet decision at the time.

He told ABC radio this morning his position on the iiNet case had not changed, but said more action was needed to prevent copyright infringement - specifically making content more available and cost affordable to Australian users. 

"If [content owners'] concerns are to be taken seriously, and they are, by government, and if governments are going to take action to help them prevent piracy, then they have got to play their part, which is to make their content available universally and affordably," he told AM

"I'm not suggesting the Government should be setting prices here, but I'm just saying that if you want to discourage piracy the best thing you can do... is to make your content available globally, universally, and affordably," he said.

"In other words, you just keep on reducing and reducing and reducing the incentive for people to do the wrong thing." 

Turnbull signalled his support for a graduated response scheme - which Brandis has previously said would be implemented should ISPs and content owners not be able to reach agreement on a voluntary scheme - as had been applied in New Zealand.

"In New Zealand, where an ISP is advised by the rights owners that an IP address ... has downloaded a movie, an illegal movie, the ISP is required to send a notice to the account holder," Turnbull said.

"And, after they've sent three notices in respect of different violations, then it's up to the rights holder, if they want to, to take the customer to court and seek to recover some damages. "

Turnbull signalled a public forum would be held in the coming weeks with content owners and ISPs to discuss how best to deal with copyright infringement.

In a statement yesterday following the official release of the Government's discussion paper, Foxtel said it goes to "great lengths" to bring content to local customers as soon as possible, and said all parties had an obligation to combat copyright infringement.

"Government should put in place a regulatory system that encourages legitimate use and discourages illegitimate use of content, while content owners need to make content available quickly and conveniently," the statement read.

"ISP’s should also assist by mitigating, to the extent they can, use of their networks for unauthorised purposes."

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