Late last year the Attorney General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote a letter to the telco industry asking for an industry code to tackle the problem of online copyright infringement. Last week the Communications Alliance released a draft, asking for public comment by March 23rd.
It seems to offer a happy compromise. As John Stanton, CEO of the Communications Alliance, explains, rightsholders can submit IP addresses of those who they believe have breached copyright, with the ISP then sending an educational notice sent to the account holder.
Erin Turner, campaigns manager at Choice, believes the scheme goes beyond an educational program, and will encourage rights holders to pursue disproportionate court action against perpetrators.
She gives the example of the speculative invoicing used by Dallas Buyers Club in the US. Jeffrey Antonelli is a lawyer in Chicago who defends clients who have received these letters, which are often demanding more than a thousand dollars to protect the recipient from further court action.
Bruce Meagher, Director of Corporate Affairs at Foxtel, doesn’t like that approach, but says the new code has enough checks and balances to ensure it won’t happen here. He does believe, however, that the code isn’t the only solution to fighting piracy: blocking sites and slowing access speeds might also have to be part of the equation.
Meanwhile, one big question remains before the Code can be signed off. Who is going to pay for it all?