Industry calls to combat online piracy
Australian home entertainment distributors are pressing the federal government to introduce measures that would combat the online piracy of films and TV content.
One key proposal is for a “notice-on”-notice” scheme which would require ISPs to issue warnings to subscribers suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material. This scheme operates successfully in the US, the UK, France and other parts of Europe.
The other key recommendation is to make it mandatory for ISPs to block streaming sites that illegally offer film and TV content, as they do with sites that peddle pornography.
The case for these measures is being presented by the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA), which represents the major studios, Roadshow Entertainment, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, Hopscotch Entertainment and Madman Entertainment.
AHEDA CEO Simon Bush tells IF his members have been encouraged by Attorney-General George Brandis’ statements on the need to tackle piracy.
“Australia already has a robust legal framework for the protection of copyright, but despite an extensive menu of criminal offences applicable under copyright law, still the problems of piracy and unauthorised use remain,” Brandis told the Australian International Movie Convention, while noting the content industries have asked for a new set of copyright laws.
Bush said Australia has among the highest rate of peer-to-peer sharing and streaming in the world and estimates 90% of that content is illegal. “As an industry we are pushing for legislation to address pirated peer-to-peer sharing and streaming,” he said. “We have a legitimate DVD and Blu-ray business worth more than $1 billion a year but there is a high degree of online piracy and rampant physical piracy.”
The notice-on-notice scheme has proved to be effective in markets such as France, the US and the UK he said, noting, “The vast majority of people change their behaviour after getting the first or second notice, particularly as more legitimate services are available.”
He stressed AHEDA is not proposing that ISPs should disconnect subscribers who ignore repeated notices.
Site-blocking has reduced piracy in the UK, US and parts of Europe, he said, adding, “Australia is lagging behind in this area.” He was encouraged when Telstra announced in February a trial during which it would throttle peer-to-peer services that use very high bandwidth.
Bush said AHEDA was “embarrassed and concerned” when the US studios named Australia among the world’s most notorious marketplaces for the distribution of illegal film and TV shows.
The Motion Picture Association of America cited the Caribbean Gardens and Markets in Scoresby, Victoria, as a piracy black spot and accused local authorities of showing “no interest” in enforcing copyright laws at that location.
Bush said AHEDA shares the MPAA’s frustration at the inaction of the Victorian police and Australian Federal Police.
He described the MPAA’s action as a “wake-up call” for the Australian government and police forces.