Australia-US Trade Agreement Proposes Massive Piracy Crackdown, Potential Tech Price Hike

Forget the Australia Tax. We’re about to enter a new world of restrictions and geoblocks that might see us pay more for tech and get busted hard for piracy if a document leaked by Wikileaks is to be believed.

The free-trade agreement between the United States and Australia has been shrouded in secrecy during its delicate construction, but Wikileaks managed to get hold of what it purports as the Intellectual Property section.

It proposes sweeping IP reforms, which include enforcing geoblocks and restricting the sale of devices that might be able to circumvent geoblocking.

Experts tell our sister-site Kotaku that Aussies could feasibly pay more for video games, software and tech in general if these clauses were enforced:

“It’s pretty restrictive,” said Kimberlee Weatherall, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, specialising in Intellectual Property.

“The US and to some extent Australia are pushing for more restrictions against the circumvention of devices and software — that would include video games.”

One end result for consumers would most likely be the continuation of increased prices for gamers locally here in Australia…

In another concerning development, the document proposes a massive crackdown on internet piracy and the duplication of rights-protected software, movies or games.

The document draft, penned in late August 2013, requires all 12 parties — including Australia — to provide details on new “criminal procedures and penalties” for pirates, including those “that include sentences of imprisonment as well as monetary fines sufficiently high to provide a deterrent to future acts of infringement, consistently with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity” and “that its judicial authorities shall have the authority, when determining penalties, to account for the seriousness of the circumstances, which may include those that involve threats to, or effects on, health or safety.”

The document also prescribes an increase in liability for carriers like iiNet or YouTube that may see them held responsible for the material their users “pirate”.

This new document comes in the wake of the Coalition’s plans to call industry heavyweights back to the table to negotiate a new anti-piracy plan for Australia that may involve ISP-level blocking of websites to prevent people acquiring such material.

Scary stuff. [Wikileaks via Kotaku]

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