Draft piracy code floats sending warning notices to offenders

A draft voluntary industry code of practice to fight online piracy has been released today with plans to send internet users illegal downloading content a series of warnings, and in extreme cases pursue legal action. game-of-thrones-234x131

The Communications Alliance which represents internet service providers and rights holders from the music, film, television and performing arts industries released the draft code today for public comment. The final version is to be submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority in April  in time to meet a Federal Government deadline.

The code will only apply to residential fixed line connections leaving out mobile users or those using mobile broadband.

Communication Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said the draft was the result of cooperation between Rights Holders and ISPs to reach an agreement ahead of the government deadline.

“These issues are complex and while both industries want to eradicate online copyright infringement, it has proved very difficult in the past for Rights Holders and ISPs to agree on the shape of a notice scheme,” he said in a statement.

“Much work remains, but publication of a draft Code is an important milestone toward greater protection for the legitimate rights of the creative industries.”

An Optus spokeswoman told Mumbrella earlier this week that better consumer education and better pricing and accessibility to content were the key to solving the problem of illegal downloads.

“While the draft Code is an important step, Optus believes a range of measures are required to deter the practice of online copyright infringement, including consumer education about the risks of breaching copyright, and further steps to provide Australian consumers with fairly priced and timely access to content,”  the spokeswoman said.

Companies including iiNet, Telstra and Optus have all contributed to the industry code, which came about after an ultimatum from the Government that put the onus of tackling piracy back on the ISPs copyright holders giving them 120 days to agree a “industry code” before they look to pass any legislation, after an extensive consultation period with industry.

The draft reveals plans for a Copyright Notice Scheme that would allow users caught illegally downloading content to receive a series of escalating warnings, and for serial offenders the possibility of legal action.

Details such as how the scheme would be funded and details of the roles played by rights holders of content such as music and films and the ISPs were not clear.

The draft also outlines plans for public education and a website, but does not detail explicit sanctions for internet users. There are also details of a ‘facilitated preliminary discovery’ through which ISPs can assist rights holders in deciding whether or not to take legal action.

The scheme also contains provisions designed to protect the privacy of internet users and the option for anyone receiving an infringement notice to challenge its validity.

Chris Woodforde, the representative of many of the right’s holders during the negotiations said: “The creative industries believe that the implementation of an effective code is an important step in protecting creative content in the online environment. The release of the draft code for public comment is important in achieving that goal.

“The creative industry representatives will continue to work with the Government, ISPs and other stakeholders to implement the code and address the serious issue of online copyright infringement.”

Some film companies are already pursuing ISPs through the courts with the makers of The Dallas Buyers Club film court at the moment in an action against iiNet and other companies that could see Australians chased over alleged online piracy.

Robert Burton-Bradley


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