Discussion paper: online copyright infringement

By The Mandarin

Wednesday July 30, 2014

Australians are some of the most prolific pirates of content online in the world. In its efforts to crack down on copyright infringement, the federal government has released a discussion paper to design draft proposals on the issue.

A statement from Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the government wants to create a legal framework to facilitate industry co-operation on developing “flexible and effective measures” to combat piracy. They write in the paper’s introduction:

“The Australian Government believes that everybody has a role in reducing online copyright infringement. Rights holders can ensure that content can be accessed easily and at a reasonable price by their customers.  Internet Service Providers can take reasonable steps to ensure their systems are not used to infringe copyright.  Consumers can do the right thing and access content lawfully.

“However, the Government recognises that this is not an issue that is susceptible to easy solutions, as international experience demonstrates.  No set of measures is likely to eliminate online copyright infringement. Moreover, in the dynamic environment of the digital economy, the Government believes that workable approaches to tackling online copyright infringement are most likely to come from the market.”

The paper canvasses amending The Copyright Act to extend authorisation liability. It asks what should constitute “reasonable steps” for internet service providers to prevent or avoid infringement and the rights of consumers in responding to action by ISPs. It also offers proposals on extending injunctive relief to block infringing overseas websites and extending the “safe harbour” scheme.

Written submissions are being taken until September 1.

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