National broadband provider iiNet today proposed the creation of an independent body to administer allegations of copyright infringement by internet users, including the power to issue fines and demerits to those who had purloined television shows, films and music online.
The move comes weeks after the conclusion of an appeal in the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft’s two-year long court case raised against the ISP and won by iiNet. After the trial, iiNet chief executive Michael Malone reiterated his view that iiNet had never encouraged illegal access to material protected by copyright, and called for the entertainment industry to provide better models for making its content available legally online.
Today, iiNet published a new paper entitled Encouraging Legitimate use of Online Content (PDF), in which it outlined a proposed framework for dealing with the problem outside of the courts.
The paper, according to iiNet, draws from considerations included in the Federal Court’s case that showed making content available, in a timely fashion and at an affordable price, reduced piracy. The purpose of the publication is to propose a new operational model for both ISPs and the film industry to enhance the provision of protected material and ensure policing of infringements.
“iiNet has developed a model which addresses ISP concerns but one we think remains attractive to all participants, including the sustainable strategy of an impartial referee for the resolution of disputes and the issue of penalties for offenders,” Malone said in a statement.
With regard to proved infringements, iiNet advised the independent body should impose penalties with a graduated scale of demerit points, fines, shaping or court action for repeat offenders, but excluded the practice of simply disconnecting users from the internet, which iiNet regards as inappropriate.
Malone added the existing approaches were unworkable and unsatisfactory and that the fundation of an independent body should be taken into account by all parts involved and the Government. “We believe that an independent umpire is the only way we can ensure natural justice and protect customer privacy, while allowing copyright owners their rights to pursue alleged infringers,” he said.
Today, Malone confirmed his stance and called for the film industry and copyright holders to work in cooperation with the industry in order to make their content legitimately available. “People are crying out to access the studios’ materials, so much so some are prepared to steal it,” he said. “A more effective approach would be for the studios to make their content more readily and cheaply available online”.
Image credit: Delimiter