Here we go again. Now that three of the biggest US telcos have signed up to the six-strikes-and-you're-out rule, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (the Hollywood stooges who lost in court against iiNet) are demanding that Aussie ISPs start negotiating for tougher penalties against pirates. They've given local ISPs, including Telstra, until the end of today to respond…or else.
Just what those repercussions could be remain to be seen. The letter "invites" ISPs to work on a graduated response for infringement notices. TPG and Exetel, for instance, do actually pass notices on to customers; but the likes of iiNet, Telstra and Optus have so far refused to cooperate.
The technicality they wheel out is that the Telecommunications Act prevents them from accessing their customer databases to send out notices without a court order. iiNet successfully argued that supplying service doesn't equal authorisation of P2P infringement, and that it's immune from damage claims — but it seems the issue of database access and infringement notifications could still be open for debate in the courts.
A Telstra spokesperson has told the Australian that:
"Telstra remains open to discussing how we might assist copyright holders to enforce their private property rights. Given this is an industry wide issue Telstra has encouraged discussions to be facilitated by the Communications Alliance."
Either way, the federal government wouldn't be against disconnecting file sharers from the internet.
AFACT is also still bitching about New Zealand's decision in April to charge copyright holders $NZ25 for ISPs to process infringement notices. The NZ Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill maps out a process where internet users receive up to three infringement notices. For continued offences, copyright holders can then pay $NZ200 to approach the Copyright Tribunal, which has the power to fine up to $NZ15,000 and suspend internet access for up to six months. However, AFACT reckons ISPs and copyright holders should split the cost. [ZDNet]