Aussie ISPs Propose Copyright Enforcement Scheme

Aussie ISPs Propose Copyright Enforcement Scheme

Five major Australian internet service providers (ISPs) — iiNet, Internode, Primus, Optus and Telstra — have released a proposal for dealing with online piracy. It’s an education-based scheme that doesn’t force ISPs to cut off customers accused of piracy by movie studios, but there’s a way to go before it becomes reality.

Picture by Guillermo R. Loizaga

ISPs have resisted an ongoing push by the entertainment industry to make providers primarily responsible for enforcing copyright laws against people who download movies and TV shows via torrents. The general argument is that making ISPs responsible for activities conducted by their users would be like holding a phone company responsible if two burglars plan a robbery on a mobile call. That view has generally been supported by the courts, but it’s clear that without some kind of system in place, brawls over the issue will continue.

The Notice Scheme, which the five ISPs are proposing through industry body Communications Alliance, isn’t yet an enforceable policy — the group has released it for public discussion to stimulate further debate over the issue. Under this proposal, which would run as an 18-month trial:

  • Rights holders will have to demonstrate that they have effective, accurate piracy detection technology before they can take part in the scheme.
  • If rights holders provide evidence of infringement by an IP address associated with that ISP, ISPs will send “education and warning notices” to a customer associated with that IP address (assuming they can be identified).
  • After four notices are sent, rights holders may choose to pursue legal action by serving a “discovery notice” to identify the customer. However, the ISP will not impose sanctions on customers or cut off their access.
  • Customers will be able to appeal if they are sent a notice but believe no copyright laws have been broken.

In the trial phase, the ISPs propose that no more than 100 notices per month should be served on any one provider, to ensure they’re not flooded with huge volumes of requests. One big bone of contention: who should pay for establishing and running such a scheme.

The paper also argues that offering more effective and timely legal access to movies, music and TV online will ultimately be more effective than suing the pants off everyone, which is hard to argue with.

Does this sound like a reasonable proposal for handling online copyright issues? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Communications Alliance Discussion Paper [PDF]


  • This sounds like quite a reasonable solution to the issue as long as the consumers aren’t paying for it (which probably means that it shouldn’t be the ISP’s paying for it either).

    It is a lot better than the idea that ISP’s should be responsible for the customers activities anyway.

  • It’s the most rational proposal yet.

    Reliable distribution channels will do a lot to prevent piracy. I know it’s my issue. I’d consume more media if it were easier to get than lining up my shcedule with the tv. Which I havent’ done for years anyway, I just go without…

  • I honestly believe that termination of service after 4 warnings would be a better alternative to legal action. If they continue with the legal action then they will no doubt loose more money than they gain. Another thing is that if netflix or hulu were in australia then piracy would decrease no doubt so maybe a better waste of moneyon the ISP and right holders part would be getting these services implemented worldwide.

    • They should definitely set about making international (or at least Australian) versions of Hulu and the like – it sucks that the only option to see some shows in a timely manner over here is to pirate.

      • +1. Can’t stand the crap they put on TV and need to download the good stuff that isn’t available legally in Australia (at least until the DVD/BR box sets appears a couple of years later at overly inflated prices).

        • I can understand that completely. When I see box sets in stores, and I see the ridiculous prices, just knowing how cheap they would’ve been to make and how they’re almost pure profit, it drives me crazy. The entire industry is practically holding us to ransom over our own culture.

  • Until rights holders take aim at pay tv as their primary competitor and commit to efficient and reasonably priced digital content delivery they will never win this battle. The second that they offer a comprehensive subscription package that allows unlimited viewing of all content, they’ll start raking in more money than ever before. I don’t know a single person who downloads that wouldn’t be willing to pay $50 a month for guaranteed access to any and all content. If you converted half the estimated downloaders worldwide, you’re making billions per month.

    • I pay $30/mth for newsgroups so I can watch my favourite TV shows in a timely manner. The crazy thing is that these companies are happy to promote their shows globally (e.g. on Facebook) and engage with their audience globally but when it comes to delivery, they only act locally.. and not just in terms of broadcast but also in terms of DVD/Blu-ray media.. it’s all region locked and takes months, sometimes years, to be released in some regions.

      If I’m already paying $30/mth for consistency.. I’d definitely continue to pay $30/mth for the same consistency direct from the networks (collectively).

        • I am on Giganews Diamond. Unlimited downloads, free VPN, free online cloud storage etc etc I travel to China annually so having a VPN is useful for that if not everything else that multiple VPN locations allows.. *wink wink*. They have VPN locations in UK, France, Germany, Hong Kong, USA (x2) and some other place I forget now..

          Happy to pay for stuff if it’s good/consistent.

          • Ahhhh, I didn’t know they had the VPN… I’m paying around $26 at the moment for my online stuff but that includes unlimited Usenet, Spotify and VPN.

    • +1
      I’m paying $20/month for my Spotify subscription. It’s all I’ve ever asked for in music, and I haven’t pirated any music since signing up 2 months ago. I don’t think I’ll pirate anything anytime soon either. Would happily pay for a similar service for tv shows and movies. Until then, pirating just seems like the only reasonable option.

  • Would be simpler to just un-regionlock everything and provide streaming services to the entire world at the same time. Same content, same price. It’s not going to eliminate all piracy, obviously.. but there are a lot of us who would gladly pay for a subscription-based streaming service if it was done right and we had access to the same shows that are available to everyone at the same time.

  • The paper also argues that offering more effective and timely legal access to movies, music and TV online will ultimately be more effective than suing the pants off everyone, which is hard to argue with.

    This is the most sensible part of the whole conversation! It would also help if the TV stations actually finished a series whilst it was running and actually ran the shows on time too!

  • “The paper also argues that offering more effective and timely legal access to movies, music and TV online will ultimately be more effective than suing the pants off everyone, which is hard to argue with.”

    Definitely the best case – if it were possible to see for free, or even buy cheaply, video that is at least as prompt and as good quality as what pirates are offering, I suspect most people would be jump on such a legal service.

    But as long as content owners insist on a business model that delays shows, or only offers streaming options, and doesn’t support the major portable video formats, people will continue to pirate because it’s more convenient.

  • I recently bought a track at using a “you choose the price” system for about $0.70 because that’s what I thought the song, on its own, was worth. I got in in FLAC (available in everything from MP3 to ALAC) and was listening within 3 minutes of deciding I wanted the song. This was after hearing it on unlicensed YouTube videos (i.e., “pirating” the song).

    I’m happy to pay for stuff I like.

  • If i could stream from something like netflix (even with ads) in oz with current content, unmetered and at a reasonable price i would not be tempted to pirate. I know this because i used to live in the states and was not tempted to pirate as i had a cheap unlimited connection. Old heads at media outlets are trying to protect outdated business models which doesn’t make sense. ie, Tivo in the US did not kill advertising revenues, pandora did not kill radio, netflix did not kill- wait it killed blockbuster, because they didn’t adapt and beat netflix to the punch.
    I view the media outlets in oz as kind of like nokia and symbian, too little, too late and the resistance will cost them big time in the long run as others beat them to the punch.
    Most people i know that torrent only figured out how to use BT because they couldn’t get what they wanted, if they could have they probably would even know it existed.

  • most of what i download is tv content, which is freeview, when and if eventually it makes it to our aussie tv’s…if the content were available to me directly by the network, even with advertising before or after, i wouldn’t illegally download it – but most of the time i can’t even GET on some of these websites because i am not on the usa…so they can eat me

    another classic case: last year a book title, the third and final in a series, was due to be released on 31 august…i rang dymocks, et al, a week before asking if they would have it available for purchase on its release date…none of the aussie booksellers had any what i was talking about and could not give me an aussie release date…i was there, wanting to give them money, and they all just said “daaaah, i dunno”….so i downloaded it, and they too can eat me

    coincidentally, at its release, this particular book knocked The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo off it’s top spot and has sold 1.6million copies

  • How about a digital media tax of say 10% on all ISP plans? Let IFACT work out how to split it up to rights holders and then everything is fair game for download.

  • All i want and would probably cut piracy down substantially would be having one platform that you can have access to all worlds television programming and movies.

    Thats the thing… Australia doesnt get American programming weeks or months later and what is “fast tracked” isnt all that fast.

    I would gladly pay for a monthly subscription if i could have watch all the programs i want.

  • Since when have we abandoned the rule of law, presumption of innocence until proved guilty through a proper legal process? All of these hair brained schemes are put forward to appease various copyright holders and help them avoid various legal systems.

  • haha listen to some of the rubbish in these posts… if ever there was a textbook example of a first world problem:

    “i have NO CHOICE but to perform illegal downloads and commit other offences because the television stations in my country take a few days or even weeks to broadcast the same tv shows locally. i commit crime because otherwise i would be mildly to moderately inconvenienced with my consumption of television and movies.”

  • That’s nice & all, but most people I know pirate their TV shows because they don’t want to be waiting UPTO 3 years to see it on Free to Air TV or get it on Blu-Ray or DVD here. (Example Sons of Anarchy)

    I’d happily pay say 30 bucks for a season pass of my favourite show if meant I got to download it in whatever format I like, Standard, 720P or 1080P as soon as it started airing in the United States, but an Australian service. My connection can’t handle HD streaming even if I achieve a constant 1mb/s speed.

    Movies I don’t care about, but again if we had something reasonable like Netflix with those awesome plans like they have in the states I probably would watch a lot more movies.

    • They gave me a whole bunch of option buttons on a web form, things like “I’m an administrator of a network and have taken steps,” “I’ve deleted all the content and won’t do it again,” “I believe I’m innocent and want to pursue legal action.” Then, if you comply, they give you a warning that if they catch you again (through an ISP proxy, so I can’t see how they could) you’ll be “marked as recidivist.”

  • Make content available in HD (TV shows 720p and movies 1080p) and DRM free and people will pay for content if they make it quickly and easily available. That means no need to install crap like iTunes to download content.

  • “The paper also argues that offering more effective and timely legal access to movies, music and TV online will ultimately be more effective than suing the pants off everyone, which is hard to argue with.”

    This. Seriously, this is the only reason I ever pirate (and I pirate a *lot*).

  • If it wasn’t so hard to legally watch shows at a similar time to the US, then we wouldn’t need to pirate things. Unfortunately, Australian television networks are terrible, and online streaming services such as hulu are unavailable due to copyright restrictions, usually set by the usually set by the same companies wanting to sue us.

    • +1

      Look what iTunes has done music piracy, I always buy my music iTunes, cheap and easy.

      I only watch free to air TV 3-5 times a year for major sports events. Channel 9 has too many ads and plays shows out of order. I don’t mind ads if they are funny and/or well done and only a few of them.

    • +1

      It goes both ways. If you want to watch Aussie content or buy Aussie albums overseas then it’s probably even harder. If you’re in Europe or North America then you may have no legal download options (including the highly fragmented iTunes stores) for much Aussie media.

  • if content providers could organise local advertising for their content even if this meant a format that included live commercials. which could mean i could download any show i wanted and watch it any timt from the second it was on TV to 50 years from now. i have no problem watching the commercials as long as i can watch the show i want when i want where i want on any device i want.

  • I’m amazed at how difficult it is still to get a lot of movies, music and TV online LEGALLY even when you have money to throw around. That’s even with new release stuff from say Australia, US and UK.

  • I’m against capitalism on principle. These corporations exploit workers to produce this material, and then profit from selling it, so if I buy it then I’m supporting exploitation. So I can therefore pirate this material to avoid supporting capitalism.

  • I download mostly TV shows for “free” (my ISP includes usenet access). And some older (3-4-5+ years) movies that are now out in 1080p. I buy apps for my iPhone, and Macs via the Apple Store. I pay for audiobooks (about $40pm) from Audible, but only via a fake USA account because dinosaur publishing companies release only 10% of the books the USA gets, outside the USA to places like Australia. I look on with envy at services in USA like Netflix and Hulu and Pandora and Spotify and Amazon MP3…. all of which would get my traffic and my money without hesitation…… IF they were made available to me here in Australia.
    Instead of trying to fight the customers.. these media right holders need to figure it out… get with the program… and give people what they want, for a fair and reasonable price. Then piracy goes away. It just does. Really. Those who will pirate anyway were never going to pay. So no money is lost. And hundreds of thousands of real customers come in from the cold, receive quality downloads, made simple and easy, and suddenly these companies are GETTING money coming IN every month… instead of giving it OUT to lawyers. Yes… this is very much a first-world problem and conversation. But that’s the world that I exist in.

  • These big companies in America just don’t get it.

    Australians can’t stream most video content because our speeds are horrendously slow, we can’t watch content we’d like to on TV because the networks all have mostly bad shows, not to mention that the networks are very inconsistent with their broadcasts at times (shows airing late and cutting into extra time, networks pulling a show at the last minute, etc.).

    As for video games, publishers don’t get it either. Without going into too much detail, publishers like to screw over consumers with DRM that either renders the game unplayable or requires you to be online 24/7. Some games even have upto 3 separate DRM systems on it. That is insane. When a game has DRM like that, it is pirated more than it is bought because people want to send a message to the publishers.

    Unfortunately, like with Ubisoft recently, they just don’t understand the simple concept of not screwing over the consumer. Same goes with all the copyright companies in America.

    • It’s like American-based region-protection organisations saying that DVD regions are put in place to stagger releases behind domestic theatre releases. Except they still slap it onto content that’s years or decades old, and they only think in terms of US-release schedules. If Australia gets a theatrical release before the USA shouldn’t we get the DVD earlier? Apparently not.

      Also, as I commented above, Australian companies are no more wised up about making our content available overseas.

  • I dont think anybody should be policing the internet. Nor does it need policing. If a movie or a studio does a good job I will go buy the blue ray. If they dont then I wont and delete the download. It will then become time to use VPN’s if they keep this up. The ISP’s are not responsible for these issues, the users have every right to do whatever they want with their internet.
    The Internet by design is open and for sharing no matter what the BSA wants (Business Software Alliance) and the idiots over at corporate Hollywood do they cannot change that.

  • The day the music industry bypassed manufacturing, distribution and retailing costs and passed on none of the savings to the consumer they opened the floodgates to piracy by disgruntled consumers. When you know 100% that you are getting shafted you lose all respect for “doing the right thing”.

  • Seems to me that Aussie ISPs are cooperating minimally purely just to silence the greedy US anti-piracy thugs. Even with whichever system they agree to implement in full swing at the ISP level, I bet our ISPs will be exercising a lot of discretion towards “caught-out” customers.

    Your ISP cares far more about the money they’re making off you than they do about what you’re actually doing with the service they’re providing. Even after four strikes I can’t see them cancelling contracts on customers who have a ~$200 per month bundled subscription of internet/mobile/landline/etc just because they were allegedly caught downloading some songs and a movie or two from a monitored source by a third party.

    These thugs will figure out sooner or later that attempting to stop net-based piracy is akin to fighting an electronic version of the mythological multi-headed creature “Hydra”. The thugs will struggle to all ends to uncover a single head, then exhaust themselves with the task of cutting it off, only to discover that it’s impossible to quarterize the wound from which an X amount of new, improved, tougher and harder to eradicate heads immediately grow back in its place.

  • Go Spotify! Similar services should be made available for movies / series. Free streaming with advertisements, with the possibility of having offline playlists available. Possibly limit the amount of episodes / movies available offline based on subscription fees or whatnot. Subscription also removes all ad-breaks. Haven’t pirated a single song since I got spotify nearly 3 years ago, and it’s still a program that needs a shitload of tweaking in usability before it’s anywhere near awesome. However, with the near unlimited access to most songs, I just don’t see the need anymore… Go that way with movies/series and piracy will be a very limited activity.

    No clue what to do with games and software, though… :p

  • I’m sorry but have any of you been to the cinema recently? Its a shitty experience with overpriced food/drinks crap seats and often poor sound quality. If movies were cheap more people would go. Instead they inflate the ticket prices almost monthly and wonder why people don go…..

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