Copyright, ISPs and authorisation
The Commonwealth Government released an Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper (pdf) on 30 July 2014.
Responses are required by 1 September 2014.
The problem the discussion paper identifies is the high level of usage of the Internet by Australians to infringe copyright by downloading illegally movies, recorded music and the like and a perceived need, following the High Court’s decision in Village Roadshow v iiNet, to compel ISPs to negotiate with copyright owners about the introduction of systems such as ‘Notice and Takedown (and Put back)’ procedures.
There are 3 main proposals:
- extend the definition of ‘authorisation’ by amending ss 36(1A) and 101(1A)
- introduce power for rights owners to obtain orders against ISPs to block access to infringing websites (like s 97A in the UK)
- give some real scope to the “safe harbours” by extending their availability from “carriage service providers” to “service providers”.
The discussion paper does say in relation to ‘extended authorisation’:
The Copyright Act would be amended to clarify the application of authorisation liability under sections 36 and 101 to ISPs.
It’s not clear how this will be done. While the discussion paper does specifically identify amendments to ss 36(1A) and 101(1A), the proposed changes apply generally to everyone and not specifically to ISPs. It is also not immediately clear how the proposed changes in fact cause ISPs to become liable for authorisation.
It appears to be a policy that is still in development.
The Minister for Communications linked the reforms to some positive action about the very high prices Australians are charged for online access to copyright materials such as recorded music, movies, software etc. compared to the prices charged overseas. 
He and the Attorney-General may also have different ideas about who should bear the costs of the scheme.
- A transcript of my talk to the Copyright Society on the House of Rep’s committee report “At What Cost: The IT Pricing Inquiry and Copyright” can be found in Vol 31(2) Copyright Reporter 1 (attributed to Nick Smith).
Warwick Rothnie – CommBar profile