George Brandis, the Australian Government's Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts, is gearing up for a renewed assault on ISPs that "enable" piracy and copyright infringement. After a speech two weeks ago at the Copyright Law forum, Brandis is sowing the seeds for a crackdown on Internet businesses that don't punish their users for sharing copyrighted content.
Speaking to Leon Byner, a morning talk show host on radio station 5AA in Adelaide, Brandis laid out his plan to enforce Australia's copyright laws. Fielding a couple of soft-ball questions on the moral rights of content producers, artists and entertainers, the Attorney-General pointed the finger directly at ISPs:
The ISPs, in my view, do need to take some responsibility for this because they provide the facility which enables this to happen. I’m not suggesting for a moment that they’re complicit in it. Now, some of the ISPs have been very, very good and have worked with government and with other arts industry sectors on a collaborative basis to try and develop solutions to the problem.
What he's saying is that while ISPs are not complicit in their users' copyright infringement, they still need to take responsibility for them — and that means punishing them for their actions. Brandis is seemingly pushing hard for an industry voluntary code of conduct that adequately protects the rights of content creators, but if that doesn't eventuate, he's willing to implement what he calls a "legislative solution".
According to Brandis, this term of government is going to see through significant reforms to the almost-50-year-old Copyright Act — reforms he says the previous Labor government failed to achieve. These amendments are going to include a method of cracking down on internet piracy if Australia's ISPs can't come to a consensus on their own.