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News October 27, 2015

Leaked paper outlines Brandis’ piracy crackdown proposals

Former Editor

Independent news website Crikey.com has obtained a discussion paper that details the Australian government’s proposed options to combat online piracy.

The leaked paper, dated July 2014 and endorsed by Attorney General George Brandis and Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull, calls for industry feedback on online copyright infringement issues.

The Australian government has three proposals:

1) Extended Authorisation Liability, where copyright holders would be given certain rights to hold ISPs responsible.

“The Government believes that even when an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement,” the paper reads.

2) Extended Injunctive Relief, where court injunctions can be issued against ISPs to block websites.

“Rights holders would be required to meet any reasonable costs associated with an ISP giving effect to an order and to indemnify the ISP against any damages claimed by a third party,” reads the paper.

3) Extended Safe Harbour Scheme, where the current scheme would be amended to include any person engaged in activities that lead consumers to unlicensed material.

“This would be achieved by removing the reference to carriage service provider and replacing it with a definition of ‘service provider’,” the paper reads.

The three proposals are preceded by a run-down of the US, UK and New Zealand anti-piracy schemes: the US kicked of its ‘six strikes’ operation in February last year, the UK’s graduated response Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) is said to be implemented next year and New Zealand’s government has launched an education programme to change consumer’s approach.

However it looks as though Brandis is leaning toward the approach currently used in Europe, where sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are being blocked.

“A similar provision in Australian law could enable rights holders to take action to block access to a website offering infringing material, without the need to establish that a particular ISP authorized an infringement,” the paper reads. “If adopted, any proposed amendment would be limited to websites operated outside Australia as rights holders are not prevented from taking direct action against websites operated within Australia.”

The industry stakeholders to which the paper was sent have been asked to return their submissions by Monday August 25.

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