Copyright Reform: Pirate Sites Blocked, Users Not Punished

Living in fear of Hollywood hunting you down for torrenting Game of Thrones? An extremely cut-down copyright law reform proposal spearheaded by government Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis could remove the possibility of direct or financial penalties on Australians who illicitly download copyrighted files.

Copyright reform proposals going before the current Federal Government cabinet today would see websites hosting copyright-infringing materials blocked, but illicit downloaders would escape direct punishment beyond being informed that they are being monitored.

Fairfax Media reports that the "minimalist" reforms do not include any possible sanctions like speed throttling or fines, but do extend as far as a scheme where repeat downloaders are warned via written notices that they are in breach of copyright.

Fairfax apparently understands that government wants ISPs, rights-holders and the ACMA to work together on a voluntary code, rather than to implement serious legislative changes. The government would hold the option of altering legislation back unless ISPs and copyright holders could not agree on a less formal solution. Talks on the matter have not been substantially helpful in the past, though -- especially as ISPs don't want to shoulder the cost of implementing the changes.

Rights holders like Village Roadshow continue to "fight the good fight" against piracy, while ISPs like iiNet push back against what they see as an invasion of customers' privacy.

Whatever happens, the most recent reported copyright reforms seem a lot less heavy-handed than the September version, almost universally panned by both users and the wider telecommunications industry. And if sites are blocked effectively, there shouldn't ever be a need for everyday Australian internet users to be contacted about copyright infringement or be made subject to fines.

[SMH]