The Turnbull/Brandis plan to introduce site blocking procedures in Australia as a way to combat piracy doesn’t have many backers outside of the government and content industry right now. Senator Scott Ludlam of the Greens came out and slammed the plan, saying that the party wouldn’t support the government’s “de facto internet filter”.
The Government plans to amend the Copyright Act to allow rights holders to apply for a court order that would see sites distributing pirated content blocked by Australian ISPs. The proposal is part of a larger plan designed to combat piracy being currently being put together by the government, ISPs and rights holders.
Senator Ludlam slammed the plan yesterday, saying that the Greens wouldn’t support such an amendment, adding that it could be easily bypassed by those who knew how:
The Greens will not support amendments to the Copyright Act to allow rights holders to apply for a court order requiring ISPs to block access to a website. Such a move would be a defacto Internet filter and would allow rights holders to unilaterally require websites to be blocked.
This kind of Internet filter would not be effective at all, due to the widespread availability of basic VPN software to evade it.
The Senator also slammed the government’s move to force ISPs and rights holders to agree on a code within 120 days, saying that the rights holders haven’t budged on their terms for the last three years:
The Australian ISP and content industries have continuously failed to successfully negotiate a shared approach to copyright infringement over a period of at least three years, due in large part to the unwillingness of copyright holders to be flexible in their position.
In this context, the Government’s requirement that a joint code be developed within 120 days is farcical. This is not enough time to develop a code.
The Government has not specifically allocated a role for public interest organisations to have a place at the negotiating table. Yet users will be the ones most affected by this new code.
If a voluntary code is not developed, it is not yet clear that the Attorney-General and Communications Minister are actually able to enforce a mandatory code on the ISP industry under the Copyright or Telecommunications Act, as they claim in their letter to industry today.
Any industry code will be easily evaded by copyright infringers and will not address the real issue: The lack of timely, affordable availability of content in Australia, which other markets such as the US already enjoy.
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