The Australian AG’s Argument For Making ISPs Enforce Anti-Piracy Laws Is Completely Illogical

The Australian AG’s Argument For Making ISPs Enforce Anti-Piracy Laws Is Completely Illogical

Federal Attorney-General Senator George Brandis today suggested the government would like to introduce some kind of ‘three strikes’ policy to force ISPs to cut off serial torrenters and ensure that Australia retained a creative industry. Regrettably for Brandis, the chief example he used suggests that piracy isn’t a major issue.

Picture by David Mertl

Speaking at the Australian Digital Alliance’s Copyright Forum, Brandis said he wasn’t yet persuaded that the introduction of a fair use policy for copyright was warranted, despite an 18-month investigation by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recommending such a scheme. But he seemed much keener on the idea of introducing new penalties for torrenters:

The Government will be considering possible mechanisms to provide a ‘legal incentive’ for an internet service provider to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks. This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy.

And the example Brandis used to justify this?

The Great Gatsby, Australia’s most successful film at the local box office last year, is now centre stage after its haul of 13 AACTA Awards and an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately the success achieved by The Great Gatsby can lead to piracy of the film, placing the sustainability of our screen industry at risk.

The problem with this logic was neatly summed up in a subsequent presentation by Jordan Carter, CEO of Internet NZ, who noted that Gatsby had cost $100 million to produce but made $350 million in global box office revenue:

If Australian films are being ruined by making two and a half times what they cost, I think someone needs to do their sums a little bit more carefully.

A lack of logic has rarely stopped governments of any stripe introducing illogical policies relating to technology. We haven’t seen details of the suggested torrenting policy yet and there’s bound to be a lot of behind-the-scenes argument over it, but it’s definitely an issue to keep a close eye on.


  • more pointless remarks from another dinosaur that has no understanding of what they are speaking about. let the idiots move to some stupid three strikes law, every one will just move to vpn/private trackers (which you should all be doing now) and it will make their idiotic law useless.

  • So they’ll force everyone to start using VPN’s and completely negate the “new law” making all the time and money put into bringing it in, a complete waste… Do these guys even ask for feedback from people who actually know how the Net works..?

    • Not everyone knows how to set up a VPN – But I’m sure someone will provide prime time advertising for the service which of course will lead the government to try and make VPNs illegal.

      • Not everyone knows how to set up a VPNA lot of people don’t know how to change the oil in their car, but they learn quick enough when the mechanic charges them their first born child to do it for them. People will figure it out quick enough me thinks… 🙂

        • Yeah, but in that example there’s someone offering an oil change at a reasonable price. I mean a big part of the appeal of piracy, particularly TV piracy, is that it’s way less hassle than the legal alternatives (no being tied to a format, watching commercials, watching it on your own schedule, watching without a theater full of idiots, no logging in to the service, etc).
          I’m against all this because it’s stupid, but the idea of making online piracy more annoying is actually a pretty sound way to get people who aren’t tech savvy to stop pirating. Your casual pirates who know one torrent site and have the torrenting program their friend told them about will probably give up on it if it becomes a headache. People didn’t pirate music half as much when it required a two deck stereo or sitting up all night waiting for your request to come on the radio. Nobody I know ever brought pirate VHS tapes because they were just crap and rental only cost a few dollars anyway.

          I remember post-Napster my friends went back to CDs simply because all the Napster replacements were obviously shady and just terrible quality. Hell, even when Napster was in it’s prime a lot of my friends didn’t use it simply because keeping a dial up connection on all the time to download music was incredibly inconvenient for them.

          • If they bring this nonsense in, and people realise there is a risk of a punitive nature, they may just give it up… but I would bet there will be an upsurge of people who just woke up and thought, this is bullshit, and what are my alternatives..? There will be an upsurge in the very thing the Govt is trying to discourage, and it will go underground, thus making the whole ridiculous thing, redundant. That’s how I see it anyway… 🙂

          • Maybe, but I look at a lot of the people I know who pirate and they’re just not that invested in their technology that they find their own solutions. The Pirate Bay went down and they just scratched their heads until someone gave them another site. Another chunk of them went looking for a solution and broke their computers visiting less than trust worthy websites.
            You’ve got to remember that good VPN tutorials aren’t the only Google results promising the security of private browsing/torrenting. There are a lot of ‘click this link and be secure…ly covered in so much MalWare your computer won’t even be able to connect to a torrent’ solutions out there and if you don’t already know what you’re talking about they all look the pretty much the same as legit solutions.

            I mean don’t get me wrong, I don’t think making it slightly harder will magically stop piracy, and I don’t support manipulating/annoying people into submission either, I just feel there are a lot of people out there pirating things who don’t give enough of a damn about seeing new release movies for free to go out of their comfort zone to get them.
            Then again maybe I just deal with too many people who refuse to even attempt to plug their toaster before calling me to come over and plug it in for them. =P

      • Didn’t Britain try to make Pirate Bay illegal, or some such? Didn’t the major players promptly set up “How To VPN” articles, making the whole exercise foolish?

        I’ll have to Google this & provide links…

  • Just throwing it out there, but isn’t the fact our biggest film is The Great Gatsby a far bigger danger to Australian film than piracy? When I think The Great Gatsby I think American. It’s as Australian as apple pie.

    I’m happy to have a discussion about the negative impact of piracy on cinema, I’m legitimately open to having my mind changed on the subject, but if you’re going to pretend your motivation is the preservation of Australian film at least have the common courtesy to try and act like you’re not looking at it from purely a financial perspective.

  • If content providers continue to refuse to do their job… providing content.. within a proper timeframe then yes, people will be left with no choice but to go get it themselves.

    The government/media claims this is a 1st world country, it’s time they proved it, or more likely, initiated the possibility of an investigation into potential ways that they could maybe consider gathering facts to build into a case that they could then use to demonstrate the capability that there is room to insinuate the grand capacity under which it could be found to be true. :p politics

  • A lot of websites are blocked in China like youtube, facebook, twitter… However, most vpn service are designed for US, the service are very unstable in china. I tried several vpn service and finally got this one: I found it very easy to use. I found it more because service don’t allow suspicious file containing viruses to download to computer. They have OpenVPN and PPTP available, got good speeds on most servers from China.

  • Once the Hollywood accountants were done with it, that $250M profit probably showed up as a $200M loss. The way the big studios account the net on their movies is a major scam.

    Google “Hollywood accounting” for examples; it’s why the big actors always negotiate for a percentage on the gross rather than net (profit), since the net almost always shows a loss.

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