Foxtel and other rights holders have backed away from a proposed scheme that would have seen alleged pirates dragged to court after receiving three warning letters for copyright infringement. Once again, the fly in the ointment was money, with negotiations breaking down over who would foot the bill for the scheme — copyright holders or ISPs. Will the industry ever learn?
Since mid-2015, rights holders have been clashing with Australian internet service providers over how the implementation of a 'three strikes' piracy scheme should be paid for. The scheme would have required ISPs to send warning letters to customers suspected of piracy on behalf of rights holders including Foxtel and US movie studios. After receiving three warning letters, customers would face potential legal action for any future infringements.
Originally scheduled to be implemented in September 2016, the scheme has now been put on ice for at least another year. According to a report in the SMH, the reason for this lengthy delay is a lack of agreement on cost allocation.
In short; rights holders believe ISPs are culpable for enabling piracy on their service and should therefore foot the bill, while ISPs argue they aren't to blame for the behavior of customers. This has led to a complete stall in negotiations, with neither party having engaged in active discussions for months.
A collective of rights holders including Foxtel director of corporate affairs Bruce Meagher have since written to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), imploring the authority not to implement a new copyright notice scheme or make legislative recommendations to the government for at least 12 months.
In the meantime, copyright holders are apparently focusing on "educational measures" in a bid to appeal to pirates' sense of morality. (Good luck with that.)
It's hard to feel for rights holders here. Even if you agree with their use of the stick over the carrot, their steadfast refusal to pay for a scheme that would effectively combat piracy just seems greedy.
This brings to mind last year's Dallas Buyers Club fiasco, where a studio's inability to leave speculative invoicing off the table led to the entire case being thrown out of court. Instead of receiving reasonable compensation and putting fear into the hearts of pirates, it received nothing and made rights holders look toothless in the process — which probably emboldened pirates even more.
If piracy truly is costing the industry hundreds of millions of dollars, surely the initial implementation costs would be more than worth it? At this juncture, the rights holders really only have themselves to blame.
We're curious to hear what you guys think about all this. Should ISPs be expected to foot part of the bill for anti-piracy schemes? Should rights holders bite the bullet and pay the lot? Or is an entirely different approach needed? Share your views in the comments.