Australia’s ‘Three Strikes’ Piracy Scheme Is Back On Hold (And Rights Holders Are To Blame)

Australia’s ‘Three Strikes’ Piracy Scheme Is Back On Hold (And Rights Holders Are To Blame)

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.

[Via SMH]


  • If you want something defended, pay for it yourself.
    Car manufacturer’s aren’t responsible for people speeding and/or causing crashes in their make of car.

  • I’m probably wrong from a legal standpoint but It should be up to the copyright holder to defend their IP.

    • No, you are right. Legally nobody else has the right, or obligation, to enforce another party’s IP unless they have been given permission by that party. Even if they have been given permission, it doesn’t put them under any legal obligation to do so. They have to agree to enforce it, and as we know Australian ISPs are not agreeing.

      So, the ISPs may have been given permission, but they are under no legal obligation to enforce it. They are not responsible in any way for the way an internet user behaves. Changing the law to make them responsible isn’t the answer, it only makes the problem worse. Why should the ISP pay when it’s not their problem?

      There are so many possible illegal things an internet user might do, that if the ISPs were held responsible, they would all go out of business overnight. It’s the failure on the part of the IP owners to find ways of protecting their property.

  • Without a sense for customer experience or showing any appreciation, Foxtel has dared its customers to find another option, thinking its monopoly on the market was actually one on the content itself. Soon, winter will come for Foxtel and other providers will become the rightful heir to incredible content. HBO and other quality providers be warned that Doing exclusive deals with Foxtel is Grim Reaper business.

  • I would like to see them try to implement this “three strikes policy,” has no one ever heard of a VPN?

    • Or a seedbox.

      They’re relying on the people’s lack of IT knowledge to exploit them, by forcing them to enjoy shows at SD quality with Foxtel Go.

      SVOD, as we’ve all seen, is a great way for people to watch shows when they want and how they want.

      If HBO released their streaming option into Australia, I guarantee people would have no issue paying $14 or so a month to have quality tv shows, when they want at HD quality or above.

      The upside to this is that it would actually generate some much needed competition in the paytv space, as the Murdoch monopoly has gone on long enough, and they might then be required to drop prices and lift their service quality to remain relevant.

      The downside is we would no longer be the world number 1 in piracy and journalists would have to find their next piece of sensationalist rubbish to choke us with.

    • They probably will after they tell their friends about their first strike.

  • Pharmacies get compensation for their expenses involved in monitoring or discouraging the diversion of pseudoephedrine to illegal drug labs – this should be the same principle. If you want a retailer to help monitor or control the use of a product they sell, you need to fund them to do it. The ISP is just the middle-man, it’s not their responsibility.

  • Trademarks are awarded on the basis that the owners will defend all claims made against them, its part of the process to stop people placing their rights on things that are public domain or didn’t create themselves in the first place… same should apply to copyright and the application of fair use.

    Else you just get a DMCA takedown style system that is prone to abuse, if the legitimate owners have no consequences or costs associated with their use (or abuse) of such systems… which is why the Dallas Buyers Club case was so awesome. They got told you have rights, dont abuse those rights… and they tried to abuse it and the court yanked it away from them.

    This is why the Industry cant have nice things, they want to be rich… not right.

  • The problem that the rights holders claim that they are trying to solve still hasn’t been properly documented.
    It reminds an old person of Chicken Licken, the sky is falling down etc, because if piracy costs them millions, the old business style that they espouse would be to sprint to the courts to fund the challenges.
    It would seem that they want to stop piracy but have no idea what monetary benefit they would gain if piracy were to be stopped tomorrow. That is why they want someone else to foot the bill.
    There is a business model called the ‘S’ curve where a product costs a lot of money to introduce, makes money until a replacement/better idea comes along and then costs a lot of money as the original product maker continues to compete with something better.
    Rights holders can stop a majority of piracy with a better business model but as they refuse to implement one they shout and yell.
    They have at present “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  • Holding ISPs responsible for the behaviour of their customers is like blaming the owners of roads for reckless driving. Rights holders are not being reasonable or pragmatic.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!