iiNet Lets Fly In Submission To The Government's Copyright Discussion

The government has recently started paying a lot more attention to copyright infringement — specifically the downloading of music, movies, TV shows and related content via torrents, Usenet and other sources. Its most recent move was to release a discussion paper on the topic, along with a request for suggestions and feedback. Service provider iiNet has used the opportunity to set the record straight on a number of "facts" wielded by rights holders.

Image by iiNet This post was originally published on Gizmodo Australia.

Published today, the 27-page paper covers a range of issues, including privacy concerns, data retention plans and the effectiveness of the graduated response, as well as the contentious idea of blocking repeat offenders.

It's the weekend, so I wouldn't blame you if you're not entirely up for reading through it all. Fortunately, iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has condensed the key points into a post on the ISP's official blog.

Firstly, Dalby states that the issue of copyright infringement can't be dealt with by "applying a band aid" — it will require a "long term solution" that reduces piracy not by punishing infringers, but given people less reasons to download content illegally.

He also mentions that most Australian consumers would be happy to pay for content, if someone actually offered it locally. He cites Foxtel's own report of the success it's had with season four of Game of Thrones, with the pay TV provider recording some 500,000 purchases and the "lengths" people go to in order to subvert geo-blocking for services such as Netflix.

Australia also isn't the piracy heavyweight it's made out to be. Sure, we download the hell out of certain content, but in international terms, we don't even make the top 10 for copyright infringement.

If you do dive into the paper itself, iiNet hits out at rights holders' use of "'lobbynomics' rhetoric" and the effect it has had on policy and the media:

The misleading claims by some rights holders about

  • The scale of economic damage;
  • The impact on employment;
  • Where accountabilities sit; and
  • The inflated status of these minor infringements to the equivalent of theft, terrorism and
  • paedophilia;

does little to engender sympathy or credibility with the rights holders' legitimate concerns about online infringement. Such assertions also highlight a disdain of their market, which has encouraged consumers to move in droves to alternative supply arrangements which offer much more customer-focused platforms providing access to very desirable content.

The submission is an excellent source of information if you want to get a better idea of the arguments (and counter-arguments) currently in play as well as a look at how a service provider sees the issue.

Paying the price of online policing [iiNet]


    Proud to say i've been an iiNet customer for a long time, they seem to be the leading voice in support of consumers and making content easily accessible at a reasonable price, and also speaking out against the misleading claims by the big bullies and scaremongers.

    I think iiNet and Ed Husic should, I dunno, make an independent party or something.
    The A-G, with all the resources he has at his disposal could have presented such a paper, but instead was happy to be the sockpuppet for overseas commercial concerns.
    I suppose he couldn't pass up the golden opportunity to have someones hand up his arse..

    This whole discussion is ridiculous. You're never going to put a stop to piracy; the people that adamantly want to illegally obtain content and know what they're doing will always find a way around whatever blocks or schemes the authorities put in place. The best you can hope for is to catch or stop the chancers, the opportunity grabbers who take advantage of the readily available and easy to use methodologies out there. Like BitTorrent for example.

    But given that when you do stop the latter, the former will gain popularity and eventually become the latter, the only way you're ever going to achieve the latter is to actually do something about it. Al we've got at the moment is just filibustering.

    And most importantly, while evidence does not demonstrate that price and availability has an impact on piracy within the former category, it demonstrably has an effect on the latter. Therefore, it would be far more productive, and less costly to the taxpayer, for the government to address this, the issue where they can exert some measure of control, rather than spinning their wheels over something which they can never truly affect in any meaningful way.

    It's a lot like the IT Pricing Enquiry; yeah it's great that the government wants to look like they're taking it seriously, but if they really wanted to actually do something about it, they would actually introduce a fair pricing law, whereby companies would need to demonstrate exactly how retail prices are generated. This would still give them the opportunity to be profiteering scumbags, but at least it would be transparent (this same law incidentally would prevent anyone passing on carbon tax costs to the consumer).

    Anyway, all in all it's great that iiNet are standing up for themselves. Hopefully soon enough the government will do their jobs and stand up for us.

    Steve Dalby seems to be the only voice of reason and common sense in this debate. Certainly, Brandis doesn't have any, and Turnbull seems to be sitting on the fence saying as little as possible. For a minister for communications he seems to have forgotten how to communicate.

    We need to hear more from the other ISPs. And from the opposition parties.

    I agree with iinet. I am currently overseas and first thing I did was sign up to netflix. Perhaps iinet could go further in proving this point and start selling netflix - by way of your account is automatically vpned to the US (handled by iinet not the end user). I am sure people that don't want the hassle of dealing with other steps would sign up for this.

    I think I know who my next wireless ISP will be, when Optus $3 Data Days disappears on September 17 (EEEK, only 10 days away).

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