Journalist union withdraws copyright submission saying it was ‘never intended’ to support internet filter

MEAA1 (1)The union representing journalists, performers and production professionals has withdrawn its submission to the government’s Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper, after drawing ire from members that it lent support to plans to introduce an internet filter.

Earlier today technology website ZDNet reported the Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance (MEAA) submission to the government’s consultation on ways to reduce Australian piracy, the union said it reported allowing rights holders to get an injunction to force ISPs to block websites, such as The Pirate Bay, that host copyright-infringing content.

However that submission prompted an angry reaction from members of the union, which also represents actors, performers and production professionals, and drew the ire of many on social media with one tweeting: “Whom do the MEAA think they are representing when they back internet filtering?”.

The union has now said it will seek “a broader consultation with all sections of our membership”.

In the submission, which has since been removed from the government website, the MEAA said: “MEAA welcomes the government’s recognition that rights holders are unable to take enforcement action against overseas-based websites and that action needs to be directed at intermediaries. MEAA strongly supports the proposal to allow for no fault injunctive relief.

“We note reports that in the UK, where site blocking has been implemented, the use of Pirate Bay declined by 60 percent after it was blocked.”

In another part of its submission the MEAA says it would back “slowing down” the internet connection of serial copyright infringers after notices of infringement had been served, whilst in its preamble the union states: 

MEAA rejects the characterisation of the piracy debate as a David and Goliath battle between individual Australian consumers and powerful multinationals, namely the US studios. This conveniently ignores the fact that ISPs and search engines often rival the studios in scale, and it conveniently ignores the many thousands of creative professionals – performers, writers, directors, cinematographers, gaffers, and so on – whose jobs and careers are on the line, and the many vibrant Australian small businesses whose survival is at stake.
“Piracy, as the government paper acknowledges, is taking place on a commercial scale through predominantly overseas-based sites. It represents a transfer of wealth away from Australia’s creative workers towards illegal foreign websites and the (albeit passive) ISPs and search engines. The Commonwealth Government is also the loser, with the Sphere Analysis report commissioned by the Australian Content Industry Group estimating an annual loss in government revenue of $190m.”
It also states it rejects “any suggestion piracy can be excused by an alleged lack of timely availability of content – the so called ‘piracy window’ – or that the film industry is not adapting to change” adding examples of where distributors have taken steps to et content out more quickly.

However in a statement this afternoon explaining the withdrawl of the lengthy statement the MEAA said:

“It was never our intention to make a submission which could in any way be interpreted as supporting an internet filter.

“We have previously campaigned against Government proposals for an internet filter and will continue to do so, as we also continue to campaign against data retention.

“MEAA has always fought for the fair recognition and proper remuneration of our members’ creativity through effective copyright protection.

“Copyright infringement is a real and serious threat to the livelihood of many of our members – journalists and performers.

“We will seek to make a new submission to Government based on a broader consultation with all sections of our membership.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.