Australia's Attorney-General Ready To Target ISPs Over Copyright Infringement

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.



    What he’s saying is that while ISPs are not complicit in their users’ copyright infringement, they still need to take responsibility for them

    Next he'll be saying those who sell knifes should be held responsible for those who commit stabbings and even murder.

    Or better yet, car dealers are responsible for not disabling cars when they are in highway pursuits with police.

    The ISPs, in my view, do need to take some responsibility for this because they provide the facility which enables this to happen

    Funny, I don't recall their being a "Allow Piracy" setting on my ISP account portal. I better take a look to make sure it's turned off.

    Seriously, something is amiss here when satire on the ABC is more serious than the real world news.

    Last edited 24/02/14 4:57 pm

      Heh, I was about to make a similar comment.

      Companies/Governments who construct and maintain roads are not complicit in aiding theft, but stolen goods *does often travel on-road*.

        Don't give this guy any more ideas! He might demand that manufacturers of tar, ash-felt and concrete be taken to court then.

        Clearly everyone in office has Alzheimer's (no offence meant to those who have (or have loved ones affected by) the condition).

        Does anyone remember the court cases between iiNet and the major movie studios? It didn't work then so why should it work via government reform now?

        Last edited 24/02/14 5:05 pm

      You're seriously using the "those who sell a knife" argument to defend piracy? Really? If you had a more feasible argument, you could prove a point, but the knife argument, honestly, you just kill yourself with such idiocity. How about piracy is illegal? How can you argue against that? They place the knife in the window, so I just had to take it? Come on.

        The "knife" argument here is quite relevant however the real issue is the fact that governments all over the world have legislated to protect the very strong against the very weak. Whether it is music, movies or TV shows the fact is that the entire legal system it set up so as to allow the publishers to rake as much money of consumers as possible and in doing so they have divided the world into idiotic regions and we, the consumers, may not use material from one region in another. Everything the studios and governments have done is contrary to our interests and, has been frequently demonstrated to be against the publisher's interests as well. From beginning to end our governments and publishers have foisted one us high costs and irrational protections for the wealthy. It is long past the time when the governments began to show some backbone and rational support for the people who put them into power and for them to stop supporting the idiotic and un-democratic demands of the publishers.

        Last time I checked, murder is illegal. So is piracy. So the knife argument is valid. Selling a product to somebody with no indication of their intended use of said product. Can't hold them against it for selling somebody a knife.

        By bringing this into fruition also allows for web tracking and last time I checked, humans are very private people and do not want to be tracked. Any form of spying on citizens causes a huge deal and this counts towards it.

        A knife store sells knives, it is possible to use those knives for both legal things (cutting salami) and illegal things (stabbing people). It would be silly to punish a knife store for something one of its customers did with the knife after he bought it from the store.

        An ISP sells internet access. It is possible to use this for legal things (responding to stupid comments on blogs) and illegal things (piracy). It would be silly to punish the ISP for something one of its customers did with the internet service he bought from the ISP.

        "Piracy is illegal" as you redundantly point out.. "stabbing people is also illegal".. When a stabbing happens we don't expect the knife store owner to chase the perpetrator, when piracy happens we shouldn't expect the ISP to chase the perpetrator. What in particular about this analogy is inappropriate.. And what is the relevance of stealing the knife in the window?

        Last edited 25/02/14 11:01 am

        Just to clarify - "the knife argument" @WiseCracker has used, an analogy really, is not defending piracy. Nothing in this article or these comments is about defending piracy.

        The argument is defending ISPs as not being complicit in the actions of the users of their infrastructure. The user who commits the crime should be to blame. Not, to allude to the analogy, the store that legally sold the knife.

        That is why you got so many down-votes, not because everyone loves piracy.

        "___ is illegal" just never works as an argument. Usually, because the other person is arguing about flaws inherent in it's illegality or enforcement. Maybe it should be illegal to talk about laws? The validity of them? Because if everyone was like you, we wouldn't have any intelligent scrutiny.

    The ISPs, in my view, do need to take some responsibility for this because they provide the facility which enables this to happen.

    Ford make cars, and some people who buy them who break the law speeding. With your logic you should make Ford responsible as they provide the facility to make it happen.

      I'm not condoning what the government is saying, but your example is flawed. Once Ford sells a car, there is no ongoing revenue from that car.

        There is a duty issue though. I mean why to car manufacturers produce cars that can do 230mph when the top speed limit in the country is 120kph. Shouldn't all cars in the country be at least speed limited to the top speed limit allowed (possibly with a bit of wiggle room for passing and emergencies)? I mean doesn't the very nature of these cars obligate the makers to some level of responsibility when someone careens off the road at 160kph?

          Sorry, I was just joking; trying to establish a link between service provided (and paid for since fast cars cost more) and the responsibility of the vendor that supplied the service.

            State govt pays for roads that you can speed on then you pay the govt for the roads via taxes.

        I'm not condoning what the government is saying, but your example is flawed. Once Ford sells a car, there is no ongoing revenue from that car.
        Perhaps a better analogy is an electricity provider providing electricity to a drug lab.

          Energex is responsible for peoples heroin addictions!!!!

        After sales service is where car manufacturers make a lot of money. So you are wrong.

      How about the petrol companies? Sue the hell out of them.. they provide the on going cost that allows us to speed... If the octane was lowered perhaps we could splurt and splatter along instead of speed smoothly along?

    Talk about shooting the messenger. Brandis obviously has been listening to some very bad advice. It is so easy these days to surf or download anonymously, that no ISP can easily tell what you're up to. People use lots of bandwidth for lots of perfectly legal reasons, so that no longer is a good indicator of illegal activity.

    If you put a sniffer on a user's connection to analyse the traffic, it raises all sorts of privacy issues so the ISP would lose lots of customers if it became known they were spying on their users.

    And with all of the Snowden revelations making people even more wary of spying, everyone will be using increased measures to protect their privacy.

    Brandis is not only trying to fight a losing battle, but it will be uphill all the way. Trying to make the ISP's do the policing won't work. Personally, I think the answer lies with the owners of the copyrighted material needing to do more to protect it from unauthorised use - it's their problem so the onus is on them.

    Otherwise, it would be like expecting the police to protect my house when I've gone out and left the front door unlocked.

    What are the chances this crap will actually get through...? Surely there are more senators with half a brain than those like this twit who just do what the Rabbitt says to do...?

      You are joking aren't you?!?! Politicians with half a brain?!?!
      Politicians are idiots, following the party line so they can keep there snouts in the trough for a little longer, rolling out useless policy after useless policy, spending money like a drunken billionaire on stuff that no one wants or needs. Brandi's will get a few people knocked off the web, maybe a few fines handed and maybe even 1 or 2 people in jail, in the meantime he'll be burning through Cash paying barrister's and QC's to achieve sod all. There is far more important things Mr Brandi's could be focusing on. Pointless exercise.

        Actually no.. I'm not joking... Deadly serious.... Hopefully with the help of Labor and the greens, there are enough people who have enough sense to talk to more informed bodies of knowledge than Abbotts cronies...!

          So if this were a labor plan (which they tried to get up) it's all honky dory? I think I know who those with half a brain are here. I gather you steal from shop keepers too?

            The point is, whether Labor did anything or not in the past, that they will have an unbiased view this time round, and maybe, just maybe, cooler heads will prevail... There certainly was no need for the outpouring of vitriol you just crapped out of 'yer mouth...!!

            Last edited 25/02/14 8:57 am

      I am kinda skeptical, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets though, it wouldn't come as a shock to me if all the senators out there did only have half a brain.

    I'm not a pirate but I am a geo-block you think I'll get caught up??

      I'm not a pirate but I am a geo-block dodger

      The joke was that I'd call you worse than Hitler for geo-block dodging with a hilarious Simpsons reference, but apparently German's are the only one allowed to post Simpsons clips on YouTube so I don't even know what to think anymore.

      Yes, you would be criminally liable by the definition in the TPPA. Geoblocking bypass would come under either "unintentionally violating copyright" or parallel importation. Indeed, simply watching a stream hosted on youtube which is not approved in your region (even if it is approved elsewhere) would make you a criminal.

    F*ck off Brandis. You want to fix Copyright? Make it fair for both rights holders AND consumers (none of this Life + 70s years bullsh*t). You want to fix piracy? Make things easy and cheap to buy.

    And hey, here's a radical suggestion. How about you and your Copyright-NAZI friends start treating consumers with some good old, honest to God RESPECT? Because, and I hate to break it to you, we're smarter than you when it comes to the internet. You can try to force ISPs to crack down on piracy all you like, but you won't get anywhere. So maybe if you started treating us like the customer instead of the enemy, maybe we'd be more likely to be sympathetic?

    The iinet case was only two years ago, wtf is this guy thinking.

    I hope all the stupid people who voted for LNP are dumb enough to not know what a VPN is, & they all get stung for illegally downloading.. That'd be a nice karma payback for nerfing out NBN.

      Yeah, coz the last lot did so well, didn't they?

        Actually, they did. Only the Murdoch press and it's rusted-on customers thought Labour was actually bad.
        At least then the Australian Government wasn't making excuses for people being shot in the back.

    Hilarious. I'm surprised he could convey all that with RIAA's cock in his mouth. Quite a skill.

    Another example of how this government is in Murdoch's pocket. Couple this with the assault on the ABC which consistently beats his by proxy network 10 and we can all see a fairly obvious bought pattern emerging

    Oh btw I should add that the fact that it's so obvious displays the contempt that both the Libs and Murdoch have for the Australian public.

    Modem manufacturers, Computer component manufacturers, Speaker Manufacturers and TV/Monitor manufacturer's they're all complicit too! Each of them are vital to attain or consume Copyright infringing content.

      Sadly, there are people out there that are convinced that the so-called "analogue hole" should be plugged.

    To Government,

    If you want to get my vote and keep it leave the internet alone.


      The government knows that by the time the next election comes around, you will have forgotten all about this.

      That's why Abbott, Brandis & co are keen to get this done now in 2014, rather than in 2016.

    I use a HP PC, Dell monitor, Logitech mouse, Microsoft OS, Cisco modem over Telstra lines... all piracy enablers then?

    I have nothing against trying to kerb piracy however the government is clearly in bed with Murdoch. Instead of giving the public LEGAL means of consuming entertainment, this initiative in conjunction just aims to funnel everyone to the Murdoch monolithic empire. Case in point is the below link, as reported today on Lifehacker...

    Would we be at all surprised if Australia caved into US demands in the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) which allowed US companies to impose criminal sanctions for "unintentional infringements of copyright" on Australian citizens. Its all very secret, yet the DG timing of a crackdown could pave the way.

    This is why Murdoch backed the Liberals. Add to that the fact that he signed GOT to an Foxtel exclusive that means no iTunes or other streaming options... I see some legal action against downloaders coming...

    Why can't we just have the options we want, I spend more than $60 on streaming services a month and the only one I am canceling is the Australian one!

    Lets loosen our media laws. The last time the Liberal government was in, they lost billions by giving away free digital spectrum (how much did Germany make from channel sales?), now they cower to a monopoly... Typical.

    How about we spend the money we would have spent on fighting piracy by building a system people want to pay for. I haven't watched free to air or foxtel in about 5 years. First World problems I know but I'm sick of being forced to watch advertisements for crap I don't need or want.

    How about this. Give me an infrastructure where I can opt in to spend my free time (on the bus, or train or listening to the radio in my car, or sitting on the toilet) and I watch, listen to or read advertisements. I then push a button which indicates that I would or would not or at least acknowledge the advertisements. Each acknowledged advert gives me a point of points toward content. Earn enough points and you can download (for free) an episode or movie of my choosing. Different advert types get different points. Advertisers get real time valuable information and we get choice. Win win. All it takes is a start up. Someone to take the initiative. And it's done. A 75 year old business model evolves into something which resembles a sustainable future. Noone loses revenue. Advertisers keep their money. We pay for content with time. Time we are volunteering to waste instead of being forced to.

    If this government actually had a brain they'd realize they'd need to bring stuff like Netflix or Hulu etc across here. You'll never stop piracy, it's like them trying to stop the boats. It's human nature, impossible to stop unless you wipe us out. Providing more and more legal ways of accessing content reduces the need for people to go to illegal method to get that content. You won't definitively get rid of piracy, but it will hardly be of any issue if people have the legal access.

    This is just the same as the war on drugs. And how did that turn out. Even if the ISP's got on board with it. The pirating comunity will have a work around. We already have sand boxes and a few other things right now. We will adapt and we will win. The only way they will win is if they shut down the net for good. Now i'm going to pirate every movie i find in retaliation to this idiot. Whatever you ban, people will do more of it.

    If the ISPs do start to do something, it'll be interesting as to how they do it. I think one step would be something in your members services that kind of shows a status of your account. So you can kind of monitor your activity.

    Considering posting a picture to your facebook wall you don't own the rights to is against Aussie copyright law, they will only focus this on film, tv and music. Does anyone know if there's any issues about selectively applying the law like that?

    We all knew this was coming, we also all knew the election was rigged.

    Yet we as a nation of people still voted the liberals in with a thumping majority.

    I'm actually starting to come around to buying foxtel play and using that to watch my shows instead of pirating. I caught up on some episodes of Hardcore Pawn this morning, there was no ads in that.

    Plus now I find that with the "BigPond" mobile broadband account, yes you CAN get unmetered foxtel on the bus/train/wherever.
    Just don't get the "Telstra Freedom" plan - it's cheaper, but it gives Telstra the "freedom" to empty your bank account if you go over your plan, and it doesn't have extra unmetered goodies like foxtel.

    So unlimited TPG at home + unmetered Foxtel on 3G/4G + foxtel play now is at a price that i'd consider "reasonable" especially with the $10 deal for movies + premium drama coming in April.

    It looks as though i'll be doing a lot less piracy.

    Last edited 25/02/14 2:13 pm

    Just a general comment, it seems this government has gotten in and is far exceeding what ever they had a mandate for when they won.

    If so many Australian's pirate material online, then shouldn't anything to alter this behavior almost be an election issue? Same with a bunch of other stuff the govt is doing.

    Can we get someone in who actually understands the situation and didn't originally listen to their music through a gramophone.

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