Australia’s ISPs Continue to Support Efforts to Help Combat Online Copyright Infringement
Sydney, 30 July 2014: Communications Alliance, whose members include Australia’s major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), welcomed the release today of the Government’s discussion paper on online copyright infringement, but urged caution around several of the reform proposals.
Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, stressed that its member ISPs do not condone online copyright infringement and encourage the lawful use of the Internet.
“We believe that for any scheme designed to address online copyright infringement to be sustainable it must also stimulate innovation by growing the digital content market, so Australians can continue to access and enjoy new and emerging content, devices and technologies,
“The ISP members of Communications Alliance remain willing to work toward a solution that balances the interests of all stakeholders, including consumers,”
“We do not share the view in the discussion paper that the High Court’s decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd (April 2012) undermines Australia’s international obligations, nor that there is any obligation in Australia’s free trade agreements that means the Copyright Act must be amended to extend authorisation liability, “Mr Stanton said.
“If the Government does ultimately decide to amend the Copyright Act, this should only take place after an agreement on an industry scheme is reached, as such a scheme may go a long way to addressing their concerns.”
Communications Alliance said careful consideration was needed regarding the proposal to extend the authorisation liability within the Copyright Act.
“This proposal has the potential to capture many other entities, including schools, universities, libraries and cloud-based services in ways that may hamper their legitimate activities and disadvantage consumers,” Mr Stanton said.
He noted that the discussion paper contemplated ISPs being required in response to third party allegations to impose sanctions on their customers accused of infringing copyright. ISPs have been consistent in their view that any actions in response to allegations of copyright infringement must have robust safeguards in place including independent oversight to protect the interests of consumers.
“We note and support the Government’s expectation, expressed in the paper, that an industry scheme, if agreed, should not provide for the interruption of a subscriber’s internet access – although the possibility of internet accounts being terminated is contemplated under the existing Safe Harbour provisions of the Copyright Act.”
Industry has identified the following key matters that should be addressed in any scheme:
- a holistic end-to-end approach, supported by Government, rights holders, ISPs and consumers;
- stronger efforts by rights holders and Government to ensure that consumers can access lawful, affordable content when they want it, accompanied by public education on how and where to access such content;
- a level playing field involving all ISPs and rights holders, so as not to distort the market;
- recognition that technology is moving very quickly and any solution may be quickly redundant as online content markets continue to evolve;
- independent (judicial or regulatory) oversight;
- consultation with, and protections for, our customers and consumer groups including in areas such as privacy and access to an appeal mechanism;
- legal protections for ISPs;
- resolution of funding for any scheme, consistent with enforcement of other intellectual property rights, and consistent with how ISPs assist other parties (particularly law enforcement agencies) to address other digital content issues; and
- innovation in, and growth of, the digital content market.
ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.
Its vision is to provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.
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