Brandis threatens ISPs with “mandatory” piracy scheme



news Attorney-General George Brandis has threatened to introduce legislation to deal with the issue of Internet piracy in Australia unless the ISP and content industries can agree on a voluntary industry code to deal with the issue.

In 2011 and 2012, the Attorney-General’s Department hosted talks between the ISP and content industries about the issue of online copyright infringement, with the stimulus for the talks appearing to come from the department itself in the form of departmental secretary Roger Wilkins, and not the Australian Labor Party, which was in power at the time. However, despite the fact that the ISP industry proposed a voluntary industry code to deal with the issue, the talks eventually collapsed, with major ISP iiNet stating that discussing the issue with the content industry was like “talking to a brick wall”.

Several weeks ago, new Coalition Attorney-General George Brandis gave a major speech in which he re-opened the issue. At the time, Brandis appeared to back a scheme proposed by a coalition of most of Australia’s major ISPs in November 2011 which would see the issue of online copyright infringement handled through Australians being issued with warning notices after content holders provided evidence that they had breached their copyright online — and the door opened for ISPs to hand over user details to the content industry if the behaviour continued. iiNet has subsequently pulled out of the scheme.

In a new interview today with Radio 5AA in Adelaide (you can read the full interview online), Brandis ramped up his rhetoric on the issue.

“… the reason I’m raising the issue is because it is an increasingly important issue for Australia, particularly for the entertainment sector,” Brandis told host Leon Byner. “The fact is that people don’t have a right to download pirate copies of songs or movies or television programs because the people who make those programs or other items have a right of property in them.

“The way artists earn their living is through royalties and that’s the way they are remunerated for what they do. To pirate a video or a song without paying the fee for it through iTunes, and so on, is an act of theft, it’s pure and simple. And the fact that it’s very common, I know it’s a very common practice particularly, I must say, among teenagers, doesn’t make it right.”

The Attorney-General went on to state that ISPs, in his view, did need to take some responsibility for the issue, because they provided the facility (broadband) which allowed piracy to happen, and that he wanted to restart the talks with the ISPs on the issue.

Brandis concluded: ” … if we can have a voluntary industry based code of practice that is always the best way to go. And I haven’t, even though the former Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, failed to achieve this, I haven’t given up on the possibility of developing a voluntary industry based code of practice. That will require the cooperation of the ISPs.”

“But there is always the capacity, if that fails, for government to legislate. We had a report, that you’d probably be aware of, two weeks ago from the Australian Law Reform Commission about the Copyright Act which is almost 50 years old now. The Government will, during this term, be looking to make significant amendments to bring the Copyright Act up to date. I would prefer that those amendments not include a mandatory scheme but if a voluntary scheme can’t be developed then they will.”

Brandis’ comments contain several puzzling elements for any Australian observer of copyright law. Firstly, the Attorney-General’s statement that Internet piracy constitutes theft is factually inaccurate. Under Australian law, copyright infringement constitutes an infringement of copyright rights. However, because there are a variety of legal uses of others’ copyrighted works, and because the items in question are not stolen but copied digitally, copyright infringement does not constitute theft and is treated differently by the courts. Copyright infringement constitutes an infringement of others’ rights under the law, but does not constitute stealing per se. It does not deprive the original creator of the work of their copyright.

Secondly, Brandis’ mention of the recently published Australian Law Reform Commission review of the Copyright Act in the context of the new digital environment is also puzzling when discussing Internet piracy, as the terms of reference for the report explicitly prohibited the ALRC from examining Internet piracy.

Consumer group reacts Brandis’ approach
The news comes as consumer group CHOICE has recently severely criticised Brandis for his comments re-opening the Internet piracy debate, and particularly his mention of a “graduated response” scheme, which could see users hit with a series of warnings before facing penalties for copyright infringement.

“Three strike schemes have proven to be ineffective and costly in other countries. They have also undermined the rights of consumers to due process,” said CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland in a statement. “If implemented in Australia, these measures would push up the price of internet access without any impact on piracy.”

“Nobody supports internet piracy but punishing consumers is not the answer. The best way to stop piracy is to make it easier for Australians to pay for content like movies and television series at internationally competitive prices. The main driver of piracy is frustration, as Australians look overseas for flexible, affordable and timely content. Piracy in Australia is driven by a market failure, plain and simple. The Government should be embracing the internet as a source of innovation and development, not restricting it.”

CHOICE welcomes comments from the Attorney-General that the government will seek to engage with Internet Service Providers in establishing a scheme, however we stress that given the very real risks for internet users, consumers must be consulted as well. “Any discussion on how to address online piracy must examine how industry can make content more available to consumers. Lack of access to legitimate content is the elephant in the room, and it’s time that industry addressed it in a meaningful way,” said Kirkland.

During several rounds of the previous talks regarding an industry code to deal with Internet piracy, consumer groups were explicitly initially excluded. CHOICE has also launched a petition urging the government not to introduce a three strike policy.

Brandis explicitly declined to answer questions on the Coalition’s policy on Internet piracy before the Federal Election or shortly after it. The Australian Labor Party has similarly not issued a policy on the issue.

Image credit: CeBIT, Creative Commons


  1. So, if we post a ripped DVD, Australia Post is not responsible, but if we download it, the ISP is…

    Oh dear are we back to this again.

  2. This is now going to happen, one way or another. The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA, the official text of which was published last week) requires it.

    Article 13.9(28) states that ‘each Party shall provide measures to curtail repeated copyright and related right infringement on the Internet.’ I doubt it was coincidence that Brandis started talking this up just a few days before the KAFTA announcement.

    In a related provision, Article 13.5(14) provides that: ‘…neither Party shall permit the retransmission of television signals (whether terrestrial, cable or satellite) on the Internet without the authorisation of the right holder or right holders of the content of the signal and, if any, of the signal.’ This has clear implications for any attempt at ‘technology-neutral’ copyright laws in light of the Optus TV Now decision.

  3. “unless the ISP and content industries can agree on a voluntary industry code to deal with the issue.”
    voluntary, you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

  4. I want to know how much his Buddy’s in the US are giving him? As why on earth is our AG wasting his time pandering to a international organisations known ( for ripping off the Artists he claims to be wanting to protect.

    It would be pretty easy to better serve consumers than copyright infringement services. He should actually try one of the services and he’ll quickly find that you have to deal with broken downloads, out of sync files, missing subtitles, private trackers (invite only, better quality but require uploads to match downloads, which is nearly impossible on xDSL).

    We need competitive services available in Australia, but what have we got. Foxtel. Where if you want the desirable stuff it’s on a top tier plan, otherwise you just get served with repeats and adds (may as well stick with FTA).

    If you make it easy and affordable to do the right thing, people generally will (why punish the majority, when you’d likely never see a cent from the minority who will go out of their way not to pay).

  5. It´s not another broken promise. Brandis really, really, really wanted to keep the Internet free and open but the ISPs refused to implement a mandat… sorry… VOLUNTARY user penalty scheme. See, it is all the fault of the ISPs. No broken promises. Blame the ISPs.

  6. It’s a shame CHOICE and the ISP’s are the only sane parties in these ‘negotiations’…

  7. this really is crzy shit. the far right using the rule of Gov/Law to make profits… when the consumers (and the left) all WANT to give businesses their money but they wont take it unless we get punished first..

    Its unreal…

    • No, you don’t understand.

      The content industries *do* want to take our money, they really do.

      The problem is that they want to take 2-3 times as much as we’re offering based on their own pricing in other markets.

      For some reason they seem to think that if they charge twice as much for ‘entertainment’, we’ll spend twice as much on ‘entertainment’, rather than buying half as many items.

      I think the phrase “zero sum game” isn’t one they comprehend.

  8. So it seems if (and most likely when) the Entertainment Industry which gives us a whopping 0,5% (yes ZERO POINT FIVE PERCENT) of our GDP compared to the ITC industry gives a LOT LOT LOT more gets there way with making Copyright Infringement not a matter for the courts but instead a matter for a Star Chamber styled non-natural justice methodology we will once again be heading back to the High Court

    Oh fun times!

    PS: It isn’t stealing per se either Renai.. in fact Infringement of Copyright bears no similarity whatsoever to theft/larceny/stealing in any context and that’s whether it’s digital or otherwise. The only relation that theft could ever have with Copyright is if an actual copyright registration was actually physically removed.

    Also “Copyright rights” is a misnomer since copyright is an actual exemption from the specific rights to copy something that everyone has (which is what the Public Domain is). Copyright gives for a limited time the exclusive removal of the rights of the public from that particular work for the benefit of the creator. The ALRC explicitly stated this in their latest report as well which is one of the main reasons why they are recommending a ‘fair use” doctrine within Australia.

    • Sorry, thats a strawman argument. You’re correct, it doesnt fit the legal definition of theft, but it bears sufficient similarities.

      A downloader obtains a fair and reasonable copy, for minimal or no cost. None of that cost incurred finds its way either to the content maker, or the copyright holder. Those are similarities to theft. If you cant see that, you’re not here to debate, only preach.

      People get caught up on downloading not denying the physical copy, but it denies the financial benefit which has almost as much bearing as the physical side. I wish downloaders would stop denying that it at least resembles theft, because all the denial does is galvanise the people that write the laws against them.

      Argue instead that its not reasonably available, or that geoblocking artificially inflates the price, and you might have a better argument. But dont sit on the claim it doesnt resemble theft, when to everyone that has an important say in this says otherwise. The only people you’re convincing are other downloaders.

      • No, it would only resemble theft if you would have otherwise purchased the item if you could not get it by ‘pirating’. I’m sure there are countless people who would never actually pay for most of the stuff they download if downloading wasn’t possible.

        • Theft is the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods of another. Also, the act of stealing. Stealing is to take or take away dishonestly or wrongfully.

          What do you think it is if you deny them money? By taking a copy, they arent making the relevant money from the transaction, and thats the key thing here that makes it similar enough. You’re denying them something, and rather than it being the physical item, its the profit they should be making.

          If you’re deluded enough to think that downloading isnt dishonest or wrong, you’re here to preach, not debate. And not helping.

          Its SIMILAR, thats all. Not identical. And to the people making the rules, or have the money to influence those rulemakers, its enough.

          I’m against the current rules, I think they are being abused by the broadcasters in monopolistic ways, but I’m not that naive I deny downloaders arent part of the problem. And to deny that isnt going to stop the broadcasters, copyright holders, and lawmakers making laws to hurt YOU.

          Stop hiding behind technicalities. Downloading has enough similarities to theft that the accusations stick.

          • Denying what ¨profit they should be making¨? There is no reason to assume they would have been paid by people who make copies, let alone that they SHOULD be paid an amount. Trying to call copyright infringement ¨theft¨ is just a continuation of the campaign by lobbyists. Why not call it ¨Rustling¨? Just like stealing cattle denies farmers profit, ¨Rustling¨ content denies Multinational Corporations profit. You wouldn´t rustle a cow would you? So why is it alright to rustle a movie?

          • If that makes you sleep better at night, good luck to you. I’m against what the content providers are doing, dont lose track of that. But I’m saying that its not a one way street.

            Foxtel is wrong with how they have locked GoT away behind two paywalls. But they wouldnt have locked it away even more if they didnt think there was value in doing so. HBO wouldnt have sold them those rights if they didnt think there was value in doing so either.

            For them, its easy money for a market so small they dont have to care about the consequences. In years past, we benefitted from that because they didnt care we downloaded, but they’ve now made more money out of the show thanks to Foxtel caring.

            If you download something, you’re giving it a value. Otherwise, why are you downloading it? All you’re doing is saying it has less value than what you’re being charged to pay.

            My answer was that it has enough similarities to theft that to hide behind a loophole is self serving at best, and head in the sand at worst. And doesnt help anyone. If the definition of theft precludes downloading, to me all that means is that definition is as outdated as the copyright laws we’re debating in the first place.

            Dont make me out to be one of the bad guys here, I’m not. I’m just practical enough to realise that downloading is a slippery slope, and that slope heads more towards illegal acts than legal. I’m just amazed that people still try to justify that downloading is perfectly legal, thats all.

          • If you want to change the definition of theft get elected to Parliament and change the Law. The reason why people like Brandis, and the Lobbyists who have bought him, want infringement renamed ¨Theft¨ is because it is part of an overarching public relations plan. That is why Brandis specifically uses key words such as: ¨Theft¨, ¨Think of the Artists¨, ¨Entitled Pirates¨. The reason why people here don´t like the misuse of Legal Terms by the Nation´s Attorney General isn´t because we are being pedantic, it is because it is Brandis´ job to get it right, plus the way he is choosing to misuse the Legal terms shows that he has already been bought by a Lobby Group and is shilling their public relations plan without even listening to the people who elected his Party. If you truly believe that it doesn´t matter what you call it, because it still equates to theft, then it shouldn´t matter to use the correct term such as: ¨Infringement¨

          • Save your breath. They will justify downloading til the cows come home. Just hope they don’t really believe their justifications. If so they could probably get a job as a Liberal MP.

          • No one is saying that downloaders aren’t doing something wrong, just that it’s not stealing…

            Which it’s not.

            The point is moot though, the way to reduce piracy is to provide the product at reasonable prices via convenient methods of obtaining it, and the money will start to flow. They’ll make up on volume what they lost because of scarcity and extortionate pricing.

            None of which is news to anyone with at least 2 functioning brain cells. People have repeatedly proved that the model of convenience + good price = win.

          • I’m over arguing about it. Its wrong, but people wont admit it, thats all. And yes, plenty of people ARE hiding behind “its not stealing” and somehow justifying downloading as right. Look at the stupid “email me a chocolate bar” comments.

            I’m against the current system, and want it changed, but think people denying their part in the process is foolish and doesnt help anyone. But people in this thread dont care that I want things to be made better, only that I think that downloading is close enough to stealing that the lobbyists have traction with their claims.

            End of the day, its up to the individual to determine their moral compass. As I work with law every day, and see that the intent of law is as important, if not moreso, than the letter of the law, I can see that the intent behind theft laws drags areas like this in as well. Rightly or wrongly, its happening. I’ve yet to see anyone successfully argue in court that downloading isnt theft.

            And as the content owners and legislators are the ones talking to each other, our voice is being ignored. Downloaders denying their part in the problem only gives power to the content owners and if they dont do something about it now, what do they think is going to happen when a “mandatory” piracy scheme is implemented?

            Thats it from me, not bothering with this thread any more. Good luck to anyone that thinks sticking their head in the sand will somehow get the result they want.

          • “it bears sufficient similarities.”

            So as per other’s arguments and your own admission, copyright infringement is not theft.

            Similar does not equal same. So the AG’s assertion is incorrect.

            You are correct in that this does not mean that people are doing the right thing.

            My question is why the Australian public, the largest stakeholder in this situation, are not listed as a stakeholder by the AG?

          • My question is why the Australian public, the largest stakeholder in this situation, are not listed as a stakeholder by the AG?

            At a guess, I’d say because he gets our money no matter which way he goes, the same can’t be said of the lobbies.

          • It’s interesting how you never actually replied back to my own post below, which was a direct reply to your original accusations about what i stated, but whatever it seems others have come to the same conclusion both semantically and legally as myself.

            >>End of the day, its up to the individual to determine their moral compass. As I work with law every day, and see that the intent of law is as important, if not moreso, than the letter of the law, I can see that the intent behind theft laws drags areas like this in as well.

            I suspect you mean ethical compass since morals aren’t really relevant here, though I absolutely agree that yes intent, or more importantly, mens rae is of paramount importance in most areas of law. Though admittedly intent doesn’t always have to be necessary (inaction for example).

            >> Rightly or wrongly, its happening. I’ve yet to see anyone successfully argue in court that downloading isnt theft.

            Due to no court actually having anyone in front of it accused of any type of theft and instead they are respondents in a civil matter accused and NOT charged with Copyright Infringement. (even the very few criminal cases brought under the copyright Act absolutely do not have theft within them). Theft or any wording alleging ‘theft, stealing, larceny, etc is never allowed on any official documentation and any solicitor who allows the specter of theft to raise it’s head has an absolute duty to their client to quash it immediately, and do so.

      • Using either historical or recent times copyright infringment since it became an actual breach of a statutory act (200+years) bears no similarity whatsoever with theft, or burglary, or robbery. In fact the only thing that it bears any similarity to in criminal structures is, and this is stretching legal theories, fraud and tresspass.

        That is NOT a strawman argument.. it is fact and when logically dissected makes absolute sense since it shows what all criminality structures of the actus of theft need to have as an actual element. What you are trying to do is conflate criminal with tort laws. If the only element of theft in criminal structures was that one needed specific ownership of the product in question (the permanent or legal right to exclusive use of an item) then yes it would be then correct in calling IP infringement theft. Instead it is not the only element needed which brings us back to why courts must by necessity call it Infringement of Copyright.

        Your reasoning is like calling negligence assault, it’s wrong, illogical and just because the layperson ‘thinks so’ doesn’t make it so in a legal context in fact calling it what it isn’t as you have is basically just another Humpty Dumptyism.

        There is a simple answer to this though, make copyright infringement a legal form of theft, change the elements to reflect the stated actus which would also include copying a physical object since distinguishing between physical & digital as different when they are not just leads to ambiguous law. Then Copyright Infringement could become a criminal matter where perpetrators of this crime would be prosecuted by the state with the copyright holder as the victim. This would allow the state to collect just fines and enact punishments with the victims to collect any just compensation having to prove specifically any damages, and to also not have any say whatsoever in the proceedings . Also the discretionary power of the courts under de minimus would also enter into effect. Awesome!

        • As for whether the downloading and alleged infringement of copyright works is wrong or not is an ethical argument that is too fraught with long and winding baises on all sides to be contemplated or discussed within this forum post.

          It’s certainly not illegal though for personal use, could be unlawful if proven in a court of law using all procedural fairness with relevant evidence, but wrong.. well for a work that has been replaced and extended and extended to be not within the public domain and retrospectively placed back into the ownership of the creators complete control (whether their heirs or a corporate entity) I would posit that the usage of that work by anyone for non commercial purposes is not only NOT wrong but should be encouraged and shouted from the rooftops no matter what the govt or its cronies who benefit from the above retrospective laws yabber about.

        • I’m going to try this one last time. Warning, I will be swearing. All I’m commenting on is the stance that downloading “bears no similarity whatsoever with theft”.

          That is bullshit. IT BEARS SIMILARITIES.

          Dont microanalyse what I say in an attempt to unravel some mystical corporate plot, or whatever, because thats not where I’m coming from.

          I am saying there ARE SIMILARITIES. Thats all. Dont overcomplicate things. People are wanting a free ride, and that IS SIMILAR to theft. Whether it meets the strict definition of theft isnt what I care about. Its the free ride, and mentality some people have that because it doesnt meet the strict definition, it somehow OK’s them taking a free ride.

          If you take offense to that, maybe you’re someone I’m referring to. Maybe not. I dont fucking know, and it may come as a surprise to learn that I dont fucking care. Its your decision, I’m not going to change your stance.

          Morally wrong, ethically wrong, who fucking cares. ITS SIMILAR ENOUGH TO THEFT THAT TO HIDE BEHIND THE DIFFERENCES IS A WEAK FUCKING EXCUSE. And to me, a strawman argument. My point of view. Picking apart a single word here and there is getting away from it being WRONG. And to me, those arguments are probably from people who dont have a problem downloading a movie and never buying a copy. Again, I dont care.

          For fucks sake, people need to look beyond their own view and see that the content industry is spending billions around the world to make it theft for every practical purpose. Putting their head in the sand isnt going to change that.

          Quibbling over fine detail isnt going to stop them spending that money, and eroding OUR freedoms. Its going to become a statutory invasion of property, and people quibble over whether it meets the strict definition of theft?

          Concentrate on where the real problem is, dont quibble over a poor choice of words. FUCK.

          • Potato/Tomato. I say injecting the word ¨theft¨ into the debate is a planned, dishonest, cynical, attempt to control the course of debate. You say it doesn´t matter what you call it. And you keep saying it. And you keep saying it. And you keep saying it.

  9. Here’s a statistic I’ve found interesting: Digital music revenues in China were $75.5 million in 2012. That’s $0.13 per web user in China. Also, if you take away the concept of an ISP being a common carrier, I’ll just add services until I’m near enough a common carrier level again – this likely being a VPN for $5 or $10 a month. I don’t consider my ISP to be responsible for what I do on my Internet connection any more than I hold it responsible for what iTunes or Google or does at the other end. That way lies insanity.

    The Internet is not meant to be solely a content delivery mechanism. And it’s absolutely shameful our top legislators do not have the mental capacity to understand that – see the NBN on that as well.

    Point is, you fix your business model, you give me good value, Steam being a good example, and I’ll be happy to pay. You start doing $1.69 here vs. $0.00 in China or on YouTube, I tune out.

  10. At a high level I agree with the concept of an ISP profiting from illegal behavior. People need internet connections to pirate and as a broad generalization will go for the best plan to let them do this. This drives a demand for higher plans and helps push up realized ISP revenue. Based on that I don’t think it’s unreasonable that ISPs help form part of the solution.

    • At a high level I agree with the concept of a delivery company, such as a courier or Australia Post, profiting from illegal behavior. People need delivery services to send illegal things and as a broad generalization will go for the best delivery service to let them do this. This drives a demand for deliveries and helps push up realized delivery company revenue. Based on that I don’t think it’s unreasonable that delivery companies help form part of the solution.

    • You need a computer to access the Internet. This drives a demand for Computers and helps push up realized Computer Manufacturers revenue. Based on that I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Computer Manufacturers help form part of the solution. You need Electricity to use a Computer. This drives a demand for Electricity and helps push up realized Electricity Suppliers revenue. Based on that I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Electricity Suppliers help form part of the solution. You need Coal to produce Electricity. This drives a demand for Coal and helps push up realized Mining revenue. Based on that I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Mining Companies help form part of the solution. Therefore Abbott must bring back the Mining Tax.

    • … and what problem would that be, Mikey? One that you and your mates in the coalition basement are scrounging around trying to find? Or one that this odious little hick lawyer and free book reader and his bosses in Hollywood have… how to make LOTS more money for doing sweet… f..k… all?

    • At a high level, I think ISP’s are less profitable because of illegal behaviour. Even if no one downloaded content that they hadn’t purchased, everyone would still have an internet connection. Because of this downloading, ISP’s must provision extra backhaul capacity to deal with the traffic which equals more costs and less profit.

      Of course, if they get forced to blacklist customers under some half-arsed reactionary legislation then they won’t be profitable either. If only there was some sensible solution allowing customers to access the content that they want, when they want and for a reasonable cost and ISP’s could get on with growing their business and not having to worry about being dragged into court every five minutes. Shhh… don’t wake me up, it’s such a nice dream….

    • Should Holden, Ford or Toyota help enforce that their users don’t use that car in a robbery as well Michael?

  11. …. and we’re watching you too, Brandis. You’re a waste of public money.

    Quoted from the Age:

    “More than $15,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent on a second custom-built bookcase to house Attorney-General George Brandis’ extensive collection of books and law reports.

    The cost of the new bookcase comes on top of a $7000 taxpayer-funded bookcase purchased for Senator Brandis in 2010 to house $13,000 worth of taxpayer-funded books and magazines.

    A new bookcase was required because the 2010 version was too large to move to Senator Brandis’ new office following the change of government.

    Last year Senator Brandis defended spending $13,000 on reading materials including political thriller The Marmalade Files, Best Australian Political Cartoons and Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography Hitch-22.”

    I know that’s not piracy, but squandering public funds ain’t much different.

    • You shut your mouth about “wasting” money on Hitchens books

      I’ve seen the list and his selection is a pretty sensible use of taxpayer funds.

  12. Brandis is meant to be one of our premier legal authorities. The problem is that he is either stupid or evil (or both) – and either of those should disqualify him for his position. He is not competent.

    “The Attorney-General went on to state that ISPs, in his view, did need to take some responsibility for the issue, because they provided the facility (broadband) which allowed piracy to happen, and that he wanted to restart the talks with the ISPs on the issue.”

    For this quote, there really aren’t enough facepalms in the world. A child could understand the logical fallacies. Yet our Attorney-General can’t?

    Similarly, I recall when he moved swiftly to squash gay marriage in Canberra. What was his justification? Consistency.
    So in Brandis-land, when faced with a choice between having consistent unfairness or having some states actually having fair laws while others don’t, the obvious choice is to have no fairness anywhere. All-bad is preferable to some-bad/some-good.

    Again, a child could see through that kind of reasoning.

    People don’t bleat this kind of nonsense just because they are fundamentally stupid. They don’t do it due to a low IQ.
    They do it because they are ideologues, which makes them both functionally stupid and dishonest, and this makes it so much more inexcusable.

    • We’ve basically got Saul Goodman as our Attorney-General, IMO. He is the type of lawyer who knows the law to know exactly what he can get away with. You only have to look at some of his recent statements on the “pink batts” Royal Commission. Abbott broke 131 years of precedent and handed over cabinet documents to the RC in January, which Brandis MUST be across, yet Brandis denies it saying no documents have been handed over “as far as I am aware”. This and “as far as I can recall” are classic legal weasel words because it is hard to legally prove awareness or recall. Look at how many times Murdoch uses these words in the media enquiry in the UK.

    • You mean like Jarrod Bleijie #TheConveyancer in Queensland. Don’t expect too much.

  13. Dear NewsCorp,

    Thanks for your help for the last few years, particularly during the election.

    With Regards,


    • And here is $882 million by way of a sweetener for the next time we go after the suckers (oops I meant the Australian voters/taxpayers) .

  14. Exclusivity clauses in content deals seem to me to be the problem. We haven’t got good IPTV options because Foxtel have exclusive access to all the decent content, so nobody bothers to implement an alternative because they can’t access the content people want to see. That said, how do you stop exclusive deals? Seems a bit draconian to legislate against them.

    I’ve just looked at the Quickflix website for the first time in ages, looks like they’re starting to build a respectable collection of content. And $14.99 per month is roughly what I was paying for Netflix + UnblockUS subscription. Maybe when I’m back in Australia I’ll look in to that instead of Netflix again.

    • the problem with quickflix is quality. its crap. I had a 12month sub so iv used it and I could rip movies better than they can. try watching movies with no subtitles in the non English speaking parts of the movie – yeh thanks quickflix. youtube has the subtitles, for free. yet my paid quickflix subscription didn’t.

  15. This seemingly endless to and fro by politicians trying to control the Internet coupled with the indignation of the comments posted is pointless. Pay for a proxy service. Problem solved.

  16. It’s interesting that Abbott & Co declared that Car Industry is caput due to unions etc.

    But then come on internet, they want to rollout Fibre to the Node, and then, accuse everyone of criminals even if you are not one.

    = blame the voters for both of the above.

    & They keep saying that we are running out of money, but the rate they going, all I see is them spending money.

  17. So the ISP’s can say sure, $5000 per warning.. you don’t think that’s fair? We agree $10,000 per warning would be better. The “content owners” claim damages in the hundreds of thousands per infringer, so thats reasonable. Has there been a single proposal where the ISP’s weren’t expected to foot the full bill?

    Alternatively, a little solidarity, you want us to pay for your proven ineffectual three strikes system? We don’t like that, we’ll turn off our internet for three days and you can think about it.

    As for ISP responsibility, aren’t they licenced by the government? If so, simple extension of the logic laying fault with ISP’s lays fault with the government.

    End of the day, it doesn’t matter, Turnbull & Co are doing their utmost to ensure we are incapable of consuming any modern media. One just needs to attempt to view Turnbull or Abbots youtube channel (or any other online video media) via a typical Australian connection to understand we will soon be unable to watch the trailing edge of current technology. Even if they concede to providing online media outlets, it will likely be in HD and Australian’s will still need to source compressed, (pirated) versions.

  18. Where there is a will there is a way, bittorrent is so old hat.
    Legislate away , won’t make a bit of difference.

  19. here we go again the big paytv and media pulling the strings and trying to make it hard for us to do anything
    they touted the free to air as the best thing
    6 channels for selling crap
    repeated shows
    and 30 year old shows and bullshit repeated crap
    they are trying to sew up the content for money foxtel with game of throne well I wont be forking out money just to watch that
    so watch VPN’S explode in popularity
    and they will try and push this threw the senate now before wa goes to the polls
    and if they lose seats in the senate it will be harder for them to try and push things threw.
    they just cant ram something in and call it legislation.
    it is still a civil crime and for it to be made legislation they would have to make it a criminal offence

  20. “You wouldn’t steal a car!” Oh god *skip to menu* *not available*
    “You wouldn’t steal a handbag!” Bugger off! *top menu* *not available*
    “You wouldn’t…” *skip, skip, skip* *not available*

  21. Oh good.

    We get to go through the whole process, yet again. Only to find there’s no middle ground that anyone can agree to. This is the same “three-strikes” type crap that’s been going on for the better part of a decade.

    ISPs are not the gate keepers. Any more than Australia Post are dope peddlers, or Couriers are, for cocaine.

  22. Let me reiterate what I said a while back….

    So basically we saw that the law worked as it was supposed to on the iiNet vs RIAA and whatnot that a provider is not liable for what is done w/ it’s service and that is also a gross abuse of due process.

    And our all powerful Attorney General who was *APPOINTED* has decided this is all rot and laws “need to be changed for the better”.

    Democracy “works!”*

    *only if your a lobbyist, interest group, etc. w/ plenty of funding

    • OMG are you suggesting Rockt, that some of the things done by this c0ck-up government are the result of doing things for their mates? That’s an appalling stance to take.

      My simple joy this morning is seeing them trotting Msgr Pell off to the Holy See to get him out of the sights of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to ongoing sexual abuse.

      Amazing one day, Australia the next..

  23. The issue of payments for songs, movies and books are quite valid but there needs to be a major rewrite of the legal codes so the interests of the originators of the content are preserved.

    1) Copyright should be non transferable, originators should not be allowed to sell the copyright.
    2) A collection agency established to remit fees to copyright holders and enforce legal sanctions against “theft of copyright”.
    3) Copyright should only exist for a period of 20 years.
    4) Copyright fees to be uniform and regulated.

    Content distributers should not be allowed to establish any kind of legal fiction to attempt to establish any form of ownership of content and be restricted to 2 year agreements on distribution.

    These sort of rules would allow true protection of Artists and would end distributors establishing monopoly systems as the recording/publishing industry did during the 50’s and 60’s stripping the ability of artists of royalty revenue into their companies.

    So called content companies should no be paid any compensation for these new rules.
    The content distributers are the problem that needs to be addressed and that’s best done by eradicating them and consigning them to be companies that just “distribute” and have no long term “ownership” of content.

  24. We need a change in the Law that governs IPTV

    All content available for broadcast must be made available for streaming within 24 hours at a cost of no more than $10 per TV episode or $30 for a movie.

    Content must be available to at least 2 IPTV providers

      • Don’t quite understand your point but I said Maximum cost and the assumption is that if there is competition that will reduce the cost.

        The maximum cost is more a hard cap for more obscure content

  25. I legalyl buy DVDs and CDs from a local shop in circumstances where the “artists” derive no revenue whatsoever. There are shops like that in almost every town in Australia.

    When I have watched the dvd once, I usually give it away. Again no income goes to the artists.

    Where is the moral outrage at taking bread from the mouths of poor musicians and actors over the second hand market?

  26. The ISP should just add a small $5 copyright charge onto every invoice that they send out. This charge would then entitle anyone who uses the internet to download whatever they want whenever they want. Let the powers that be determine how it is distributed. Problem solved.

  27. The thing is, Artists don’t hold copyright. Studios and Record Labels do.

    Copyright originally protected the producer of a work, so that they may claim royalty for performance. This hasn’t been the case for a hell-of-a-lot of content for decades.

    Copyrights are now typically held (just like IP) by corporates, who have little interest beyond ensuring an ongoing income stream.

    Fair enough. This is now the world we live in. The Act, however, still effectively operates based on the basis that the Copyright holder is the originator of works, i.e. the Artist.

    IMHO, the problem isn’t so much the holder’s rights to royalties, it’s the Agents whom act for the Holder, attempting to extort the consumer that otherwise pours billions into the Industry. The same Agents whom have been caught (on numerous occasions) suing consumers, without that actually returning to the Artists.

    This is the same Mulberry bush as last time. You’d think something would have been learnt by now. Instead the same drums continue on.

  28. And the solution will be overseas based VPN services where there is no jurisdiction and no controls, data will be encrypted so an ISP cannot see what data is being moved across its network, and then what??, everyone is now invisible, problem is not solved a new and dangerous one is created, is this the solution for the government next ban the use of an overseas VPN services, as surely you must be doing something illegal if you are using it.

    I guess they may be right, but then what….., I suggest make the content available at a reasonable price, produce great quality product , stop protecting Foxtel monopoly and people I am sure will gladly pay.

  29. It is not those who direct-download copyrighted (and often de-protected) material that are the pirates, it has been shown time and again that these media-heavy consumers do spend a lot more on content they actually enjoy and consider worth paying for, than those who stick to the legitimate-purchased-content-only consumers.

    No, the true pirates are the executives of the movie industry and music recording industry, who arbitrarily push prices as high as they think they can get away with, or get legistated, and who give the actual creators of that content a merest fraction of that money, often not even one cent in the dollar.

    The other ninety-nine cents goes into those executives’ personal pockets, minus the payola shelled out to grease the palms of shoddy politicians and lawyers. Brandis is a paid puppet of the so-called media content industry, nothing more.

  30. “To pirate a video or a song without paying the fee for it through iTunes, and so on,”

    Seem to recall just recently one of these aggrieved content providers insisting we not be able to purchase GoT on iTunes there. Kind of hard to procure stuff without breaching copyright when they keep removing all affordable avenues to do so from us!

    Fortunately for about $16 a month + an apple TV device and some internet bandwidth one can get Netflix from the US! (The actual netflix basic subscription is $8USD as well the rest of the expense is all additional stuff you need to get around the geo-blocking … doing so is apparently government approved lol)

    This instead of over $100 one would be charged from a local ‘competitive’ service which actually provides less content to boot.

  31. The questions are simple.

    Do you believe that someone who creates Intellectual Property, or their authorised agent, has the right to control how that IP is exploited?

    Do you believe that people have the right to demand that a content creator (or their agent) offer that content on terms the content creator (or their agent) doesn’t agree with?

    If you take someone else’s Intellectual Property without the owner/creator’s (or their agent’s) permission…. I reckon that comes close to a reasonable facsimile of theft.

    • Uh-huh, and Public Domain belongs to all of us, so everytime the length of Copyright was extended to keep things out of Public Domain you were by your own logic stealing from the whole Community. The question is simple why don´t you respect Communally held property, and why do you keep stealing from the Community?

      I´m still hungry by the way so if you could get around to emailing me that chocolate bar, please.

    • Yes we Australians are being exploited.

      I think it is reasonable to expect that us as consumers will pay a price similar to other consumers this is not the case we pay a 50%-200% mark up on all content.

      I understand that you like being used as a money piniata but I don’t like being exploited.

    • Yipee! Shame the same can´t be said for the ¨Let´s call it Theft, even though we know full well it is nothing of the sort¨ Strawman you are using. I don´t suppose you will be using your real name so we can verify you have the Copyright Industry´s permission to use their IP?

    • Strangely,

      The UN begs to differ with you.



      Article 27.

      (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.


      But of course, you may only like the bits of that charter that appeal to you, eh?

      I love hunting through the histories of those people who will champion human rights for a whole number of causes… until, ooops – it directly affects them and their leisure time enjoyment.

  32. Seriously, get a life.

    I don’t want to pay ANYTHING for something that US consumers get for free.

    I don’t advocate downloading movies, but why the hell should I have to pay a cent for free-to-air tv shows that US citizens get to watch?

  33. I’m not a great fan of taking one tactic or strategy and dropping it down into another context believing that it will apply, but that logic tends to recede when dealing with the internet,
    This has not worked when imposed in overseas national environments and won’t work in Australia. These idiots have research officers that would or should have already established this for them:

  34. And just going through the comments here, most of the reason dissension exists, is because it’s pointless discussing something indepth with the sort of personality that would drown in three inches of water.

    People download, because they want to look at something, just as they want to take a car for a test drive and get a mechanic friend to check it out before they buy it.
    After that, if they want to possess it, there’s only one of two ways they can do that: they can recreate it themselves, or, if they don’t have that ability, they go out and buy a copy from the person who creates it.

    And that’s what the vast majority do, because only a minor percentage of any community, virtual or meat world, are thieves.
    Anybody that believes otherwise would drown in three inches of water.

  35. ISPs like iiNet are a little nervous.

    As one of the lawyers in their case said afterward:

    “This doesn’t mean that ISPs can sit back and relax. They must not encourage their customers’ primary infringements.

    As Chief Justice French and Justices Crennan and Kiefel pointed out, the authorisation provisions were introduced before peer-to-peer software was available, and as a result:

    “the concept and the principles of the statutory tort of authorisation of copyright infringement are not readily suited to enforcing the rights of copyright owners in respect of widespread infringements occasioned by peer-to-peer file sharing, as occurs with the BitTorrent system.”

    Legislative reform may well be needed.”

    And Brandis is waving that big legislative reform stick.

  36. Yes, there are different parameters that need to be considered and some that deserve no consideration at all.

    I certainly don’t endorse the way Disney, for one example, can pillage the European Public Domain for a whole lot of fairy-tales, hire a few script witers and animators, and modify the stories in order to star a mouse, then place those same stories into copyright protection for what amounts to perpetuity.

    And if I cut out a picture of Mickey and glue it to a piece of card and send it to my grandson for his birthday, I can go to jail, and that’s the way it’s been since the Australian FTA with the U.S., and now they want to screw it down even tighter with the new TPP agreement. That was the first instance of imposing U.S. law into the Australian national context: absolute madness to let it happen as a legal precedent.

  37. Holding criminal prosecution over end-users (as with drugs) as a sword of damocles is the completely WRONG way to go (been there, tried that – see the continuous fallout from the draconian US DMCA laws).

    Copyright law is not like other laws – it is intangible, it is grey. Break a window and steal a TV and you know you are destroying property and depriving another person or persons of property.

    Copyright is not like that – there are no fences to cross, warning signs, or windows to break. Copyright depends upon good will from end users, and quite frankly the only way to win good will from end users is to not treat everyone as a criminal. Disney and Fox have yet to learn that lesson, and remain 10+ years behind the music industry.

  38. The sad facts of the matter are:
    – studies have shown that “three strikes laws” do not reduce copyright violation

    – studies have also shown that copyright violation is directly correlated to lack of timely, fair and reasonable legitimate/legal access to content

    – now that they’ve failed to qualify for Free Money under the current laws, The Content Industry is lobbying to change the law in Australia

    Apparently “The Golden Rule” applies here.

    • “The Golden Rule” has always applied here, not sure why anyone would think otherwise. Either party is always in some ones checkbook stubs, and they don’t give them that money out of kindness…

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