Five of the biggest Australian ISPs are fed up with piracy and file-sharing and are attempting to weed it out by combining their efforts and proposing a “warning scheme.” This isn’t your run of the mill proposal either, and it isn’t one of those three-strike warning programs that usually just ends in a disconnection of internet service to the offending individual.
These ISP’s are bypassing all the service threats and taking matters directly to the court systems. It isn’t news that Australia has been having issues with piracy over the years. In fact, turn your attention to the recent lawsuit between the ISP iiNet and AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) for proof.
The real news here is the fact that a “strength is numbers” type of scenario is playing out. The five major ISP’s which include; Internode, Optus, iiNet, iPriums, and Telstra Bigpond, are collaborating with the Communications Alliance, AAPT, Ericsson Australia, and the Internet Industry Association (IIA) to enact a 14-page proposal which they have entitled “A Scheme to Address Online Copyright Infringement.” The collaboration has stated that this scheme is an attempt to educate its customers and warn them when file-sharing activities are discovered through their connections. Unlike past attempts, ISPs will not enact penalties on those that are engaging in file-sharing, meaning they will not be throttling or suspending anyone’s connection. The effort is emphasizing that these “warnings” are meant to educate users about what file-sharing is to ensure that they are not accidentally engaging in piracy.
Rightsholders, who are chiefly responsible for weeding out the file-sharing, would have to do so by lawful means. If a subscriber is discovered to be sharing a file they must be sent an infringement notice within fourteen days of the infringement. The subscriber, upon the first wrong-doing, is sent an “Education Notice” which details what was done wrong and helps to “make sure the consumer knows what they have done.” The subscriber then enters a 12-month probation period of sorts. During this time, if the subscriber engages in un-lawful acts they are instead sent a “Copyright Infringement Notice” (CIN). Upon the issuing of three CIN’s to the same customer will then trigger the release of a “Discovery Notice.” This notice notifies the individual that their information has been sent to the rightsholders, who will be responsible for deciding if a court system should be involved and if they wish to seek criminal charges against the individual. Collaborators state that consumers will have the ability to appeal each decision throughout the entire warning process.
This is obviously a rather bold step up from the normal “throttling penalties” and “non-effective suspensions.” The Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, stated “We believe the Notice Scheme can greatly reduce online copyright infringement in Australia, while protecting consumer rights, educating consumers about how to access legal online content and helping rights holders to protect their rights. Equally important is the need for rights holders to ensure that consumers have access to legal and affordable content online, to reduce the motivation to source content in ways that might be illegal.”
It is important to note that this is still an “idea” at the current moment and is nothing more than a collaboration of efforts between ISPs that have their backs against the wall. Piracy is not something that runs rampant in just Australia either. But one has to question the validity of such a program. What if the computer is contained in a household that has more than one member? How could the rightsholders pinpoint which individual was at fault for the infringement? Although this is a bolder and more “seemingly effective” way to weed out piracy, it seems that it is going to have its own flaws. Piracy is a globally fixated ordeal and isn’t something I see going away just because a few ISPs are “threatening criminal charges.”
What do all of you think? Great idea or waste of resources?
You can see the detailed version of the collaborations proposal at this link. (PDF File, 636 KB)