The Brag Media
News October 27, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull in favour of suing individual pirates

Former Editor

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is in favour of content owners suing individuals who infringe online copyright laws.

Interviewed by David Spears on Sky News’ politically-charged daily news program Agenda last Thursday night, Turnbull suggested Australia take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book to combat online piracy.

“As people realise there is a risk that they will be sued and have to pay for what they have stolen, then the level of infringement will decline,” said Turnbull. “But it is absolutely critical that rights owners have got to be prepared to roll their sleeves up and take on individuals, they’ve got to be prepared to sue people; sue mums and dads and students who are stealing their content. They can’t expect anyone else to do that for them.”

While Turnbull is also supportive of better education, the raising of awareness and a tactic used in the US and UK where copyright infringers are notified and directed to legal alternatives, his suggestion that Australia take up New Zealand’s ‘three-strikes’ law sets the piracy fight back by ten years.

In 2007, single mother of four, Jammie Thomas-Rasset was sued by Capital Partners Ltd.’s EMI Group Plc, Warner Music Group Corp. and Sony Music Ent. in Minnesota. She was ordered to pay US$222,000 for infringing copyright on 24 songs ($9,250 per song). The high profile case, the first of its kind in the US, was trialed three times, with the award fine growing to US1.9 million at one point, the proceedings cost the majors and BMG’s trade group RIAA millions of dollars and the case is still ongoing.

In New Zealand content providers can identify an infringing IP address and contact the ISP to request that a letter is sent to the account holder. New Zealand’s three-strikes law, which came into effect last September has seen 2,766 infringement notices issued thus far.

Turnbull’s rationale is that making an example of users would reduce online piracy.

“[…] what you do as you raise awareness of this – that there is a risk that they could be sued and have to pay for what they have stolen – then the level of infringement and theft will decline.”

Turnbull says it’s vital for content providers to make content ubiquitous and at an affordable price, something he thinks the music industry is combating effectively with global release dates and streaming services like Spotify.

Turnbull’s latest unpopular opinion follows the official release of the Government’s leaked Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper.

The public have been encouraged to voice their views on the paper here, while industry stakeholders to which the paper was sent have been asked to return their submissions by Monday August 25.


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