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Australia – A-G Signals Possible New Options To Curb Online Piracy.

22 May, 2014

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Australia – TMT

 

Previously, we reported that the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, had contacted copyright holders and internet service providers (ISPs) to commence discussions regarding online file sharing and internet piracy.

 
The nature of those discussions was unclear at the time but the Attorney-General recently gave a speech at the Australian Digital Alliance Copyright Reform Forum which sheds some light on the direction Australia may take when it comes to battling online piracy.

 
One of the options on the cards may be to consider a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are engaging in online piracy. The Attorney-General acknowledged that such a proposal is complex and stated that “the Government will not be seeking to burden ISPs beyond what is reasonably necessary to comply [with] appropriate domestic and international obligations”.

 
Another option raised was to provide the Federal Court with powers to provide for third party injunctions against ISPs, which would require ISPs to take down websites hosting infringing content.

 
The Attorney-General stated that his preference is to “facilitate industry self-regulation, as opposed to active and continuing government regulation”.

 
Official discussions are yet to commence but no doubt this will see a heated debate between entertainment companies and ISPs.

 
The effectiveness of strategies for combating online piracy in other jurisdictions have so far proven to be mixed. In early 2013, New Zealand convicted its first individual for illegally sharing music online and that person was fined NZD 616.57 by the copyright tribunal. It was the first conviction under New Zealand’s “three-strikes” anti-piracy laws. In France, one of the first countries to introduce a graduated “three strikes” approach to dealing with repeat infringers, scrapped that law in 2013 amidst controversy surrounding the efficiency and costs of enforcing it.

 

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Anita Cade, Partner, Ashurst 
anita.cade@ashurst.com

 

Mary Papadopoulos, Ashurst 
mary.papadopoulos@ashurst.com

 

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