New Online Piracy Laws: What Australians Need To Know

The federal government has tabled new draft legislation that will further empower rights holders as they try to block and take down sites that either directly distribute or enable access to licensed content. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018 expands the scope of existing laws and will result in sections of the internet being blocked in Australia faster. Here's what you need to know.

Under the proposed amendments. websites with "the primary purpose or the primary effect of infringing, or facilitating an infringement, of copyright" can be blocked by an injunction with the onus put on search engine providers to block such sites from appearing in search engine results.

While the amended laws are unlikely to completely stop sites that either distribute or enable access to licensed content, it should make it harder for such sites to be found, once the rights holders go through the process of gaining an injunction and having the sire either taken down or blocked locally. Given most of these sites are overseas which can make investigations challenging, the new laws "reduce the evidentiary burden on copyright owners" to prove the site is infringing on copyright.

There are some interesting nuances in the laws. For example, in granting injunctions, the courts can consider "percentage of infringing content at the online location compared to the legitimate content". In other words, one pirated movie shouldn't give the courts the power to block YouTube.

The aim of the laws is to strengthen the rights of copyright holders so they get the full value from their creation. The current laws are mainly focused on locally-hosted sites but the legislative amendment says "This provides a more effective and efficient alternative to seeking to locate and take direct enforcement action against operators of the overseas online locations".

The entertainment industry is still grappling with the changes they have faced over the last decade or so as faster, always on internet connections have become ubiquitous and the BitTorrent protocol facilitated the transfer of large files. Coupled with the emergence of streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, they have been under siege as their entire business model has been squeezed.

While it's easy to paint them as lumbering giants that can't keep up with smaller and more nimble attackers, the reality is the content production industry relies on income from us buying, renting or accessing content through channels that deliver them revenue. I'm fairly sure no-one here would want their pay check either evaporating after day's work or going to someone else.

These new laws will make it easier for Australian rights holders to block unlicensed distribution of copyrighted content. And while we can argue (with good reason) that rights holders may need to amend their business model, it's hard to argue against reducing the channels that distribute their content without permission.


Comments

    While it's easy to paint them as lumbering giants that can't keep up with smaller and more nimble attackers, the reality is the content production industry relies on income from us buying, renting or accessing content through channels that deliver them revenue. I'm fairly sure no-one here would want their pay check either evaporating after day's work or going to someone else.

    Fair statement, but the counter to that is that the business model has to adapt to change, or risk becoming niche as too archaic. Music went through the same thing a decade ago, where people just stopped buying CD's and went to single songs and digital albums.

    They didn't adapt all that well, yet music still gets made. The revenue streams have just changed to be something else. In past eras, concerts were there to sell records, while today its the other way around. But people still spend money on music.

    Video is going through the same thing now, and sticking to the old methods isn't going to work. At least this time the industry is keeping a hand on the wheel, rather than just handing everything over to a third party like music did with Apple.

    So yes, consumers do argue (with good reason) that rights holders need to amend their business model, because consumers demand a better service. And one of the ways consumers react to not getting that better service is to go find one.

    Napster inevitably led to iTunes, and torrents have inevitably led to services like Netflix. Its no coincidence that more and more original movies are going straight to that service, and bypassing cinemas completely.

    When you look at what the box office take is for movies these days, I doubt the industry is suffering anyway. The YTD for the US box office alone is up 10% over last year, with some very big movies still to come. Its going to set a new record.

      Napster inevitably led to iTunes, and torrents have inevitably led to services like Netflix. Its no coincidence that more and more original movies are going straight to that service, and bypassing cinemas completely.Yep, Netflix has become a bloody juggernaut, their new shows and movies are invariably of excellent quality and their production values are easily as good as any of the major movie houses.

    Coupled with the emergence of streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, they have been under siege as their entire business model has been squeezed.
    Hardly a reason. I'm sure streaming services are paying licensing fees to have the content available on their service, so the producers are getting paid in this case.

    Another sneaky action by Village Roadshow to bribe... I mean lobby politicians to get his way of making every Australian a criminal by default cause he doesn't understand piracy, and ignoring most research that piracy has little effect on commercial sales and that digital or punitive actions have little to no effect due to the technology can easily adapt or already has work arounds like VPNs. This just ends up costing the Australian government and businesses money, while that moron cries poor and says copyright holders shouldn't pay for enforcement.

    Hey, I'll be the first to admit to getting my content from dubious places on occasion, but the likes of Netflix and their ilk in Australia are a joke compared to the US sites. I have tried several times to use Netflix for up to date content, but it is either not available within a reasonable amount of time, not available at all or is taken down too soon. I'll be damned if I'm going to be railroaded by dinosaurs who have no friggin idea (I'm looking at you Foxtel) or greedy content rights holders in the Australian markets that can't see the forest for the trees.

      It's interesting but that's not Netflix's fault. Rights holders sell stuff to whoever will pay. And the film and TV industry (more than the music biz I think) still thinks geography matters when it comes to distribution.

      Having spent about half of the last three months in the US, it's interesting that some content that I've watched while in AU is not available from the US as that's content that is available through other channels across the Pacific.

      While it's true that the Netflix catalog here is smaller, it's not a subset. It's actually a different set. On a Venn diagram, AU would be a smaller circle than the USA, with some overlapping area (increasingly, that's the Netflix-produced content) but some content that is specific to each region.

        Paint it whatever colour makes it look pretty, it's still a crap shoot that I'd rather not pay for. Thanks for the info though. :)

    Meanwhile the lumbering giants of the industry still region-protect content to make it harder for people to pay for content, and the lumbering giants of the LNP make our broadband network so congested, that you need to download content you've already paid to see it on a streaming platform because it looks like it was filmed through an aquarium.

    How is this any different from just blocking it, as they do now?

    I can't see Google complying, because they've previously kept a fairly balanced view on the whole debate, particularly towards TPB.
    Their view is if the front page is not showing pirated material, then the page doesn't get blocked.

    A minor update to Australian civil law is hardly going to make them reconsider, especially when it's known we have our super effective firewall in place.

    I'd say a bigger concern would be if Village cotton onto using religious reasons to ban movies/porn etc,
    ScoMo might actually consider it.

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