AU’s Anti-Piracy Law is a Hollywood’s Wish List Coming True

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By Athena Yenko | July 28, 2014 8:37 AM EST

An intellectual property rights expert says that Australia's anti- piracy law looks like a Hollywood's wish list coming true.

Matthew Rimmer, an expert in intellectual property at the Australian National University says that Australia's anti-piracy law is "radical" to the point that the country will surpass anti-piracy law of the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand; so radical that it looked ideal for the movie and music industry.

''These proposals amount to a punitive copyright protection regime that would put Australia beyond the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The discussion paper looks like a wish list from Hollywood and the music industry," Rimmer said.

Rimmer made his comment after Crikey leaked a copy of the supposedly classified draft of the anti-piracy law discussion paper.

The document, leaked on Friday, revealed proposals to block overseas Web sites that host pirated content.

"A similar provision in Australian law could enable rights holders to take action to block access to a website offering infringing material, without the need to establish that a particular ISP authorized an infringement," the proposal reads. These provisions would only apply to Web sites outside the Australian jurisdiction.

There is also a proposal to require ISPs to block users that are illegally downloading movies and music.

"The Government believes that even when an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement," the discussion paper reads.

"Extending authorisation liability is essential to ensuring the existence of an effective legal framework that encourages industry cooperation and functions as originally intended, and is consistent with Australia's international obligations."

"The Government is looking to industry to reach agreement on appropriate industry schemes or commercial arrangements on what would constitute 'reasonable steps' to be taken by ISPs," the paper notes.

Read full leaked document here.

The proposed anti-piracy law was received by film production companies positively.

''[I] applaud the fact that the government is making people like iiNet responsible,'' Village Roadshow chief Graham Burke said.

Senior lecturer Rebecca Giblin of Monash University said that the proposals will put pressure on ISPs to negotiate a private deal with copyright owners to guard customers online.

''As well as raising serious concerns about privacy, transparency and due process, any such deals are unlikely to fix the underlying problems that cause infringement. A few ISPs have entered into similar deals in other countries, but nowhere else have they been forced to do so by this kind of threat of liability," Giblin explained.

The official discussion paper will be released sometime next week and final submissions are due by the end of August.

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