Choice runs scare campaign on anti-piracy measures

24 February, 2014 by Don Groves

Consumer organisation Choice is running a campaign against a “three-strikes” scheme, one of the anti-online piracy measures which it says the government is considering.

However Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has not proposed a three-strikes regime and copyright owners say Choice’s campaign is misleading.


On its website, Choice claims the Attorney-General has indicated that the government is considering introducing two far reaching policies aimed at reducing online piracy –the three-strikes scheme and an internet piracy filter.

Under graduated response schemes which operate in the US, the UK, France and other parts of Europe, ISPs can issue two warnings to subscribers for alleged copyright infringement.

In some jurisdictions, subscribers who get a third strike can be fined, have their bandwidth reduced or their internet access terminated.

Choice urges members to sign a petition calling on the government not to adopt three strikes. It says, “The problem with these schemes is they have proven to be ineffective and costly. In its first three years of operation, France’s three-strikes scheme resulted in just four prosecutions and three actual convictions, despite there being millions of allegations of infringement.

“These schemes can also lack due process and proper judicial oversight, which puts consumer rights at risk. Under the New Zealand scheme, rights holders don’t even have to provide evidence for their allegations of infringement."

Addressing a recent copyright reform forum staged by the Australian Digital Alliance in Canberra, Brandis said the government will consider possible mechanisms to provide a ‘legal incentive’ for ISPs to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks, as part of its mission to update the Copyright Act.

“This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy,” he said.

He made no reference to three strikes or sanctions, nor did he talk about an internet piracy filter.

Lori Flekser, Executive Director of the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation, a broad coalition of film and TV organisations, tells IF, “The IP Awareness Foundation welcomes the recent comments by the Attorney-General about the need to reform and modernise the Copyright Act.

“The iiNet case clearly illustrated how the Act is not functioning as originally intended to protect the rights of content creators. The AG also pointed out how Australia is falling behind the rest of the world in addressing their concerns.

“We are alarmed that the Choice magazine petition does not accurately reflect the AG’s announcement, and we look forward to the consultation process that he referred to.”

Interviewed on Adelaide radio today, Brandis said he is conferring with ISPs, rights holders and content providers to address copyright problems.

He advocated a voluntary, industry-based code of practice which would require the cooperation of the ISPs. “There is always the capacity, if that fails, for government to legislate,” he added.