update Several of Australia’s major internet service providers have cautiously indicated support for a proposal unveiled by iiNet last week to set up an independent authority to administer allegations of copyright infringement by internet users.
iiNet’s vision would see an authority set up to manage the increasingly fractious relationship between ISPs, their customers and film, music and television studios. The authority would not focus on disconnecting users from the internet following infringements as some other countries are, but would have 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 — pending an expected second appeal to the High Court.
Most of the industry is remaining quiet on the issue, but several spokespeople did reveal a view this week — such as John Lindsay, Internode’s general manager of regulatory and corporate affairs. “Internode supports the model that iiNet is proposing and will continue to work with rights holders to promote legal content like FetchTV, iTunes and ABC iView to its subscribers,” Lindsay said.
An Optus spokesperson said the telco would to review this proposal in more detail before making any further comment. “However we do welcome proposals like this that try to address this important issue in a collaborative way,” they added. A Telstra spokesperson didn’t go into detail, but did note the telco supported the view put forward by telco representative body the Communications Alliance last week that iiNet’s proposal should be investigated further.
Last week, Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said the group and some of the nation’s largest ISPs had been meeting with “leading content owners” in recent weeks to explore whether an industry-led solution could be found to the “complex set of issues” around copyright infringement.
“We want to continue that dialogue and broaden the discussion to include other stakeholders to help address copyright concerns and foster greater access for Australian consumers to legitimate and commercially available online content”,” said Stanton in a statement last week, noting the model proposed by iiNet represented “a potential solution that warranted further study”.
“Whatever the solution, we believe it will be more robust and sustainable if it flows from a shared desire from content owners and ISPs to agree arrangements that benefit consumers and all sides of the industry,” he said.
If a solution was to be found to the issue, it would likely require the involvement of the Federal Government. A spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wasn’t available this afternoon to comment on the issue, but Conroy himself has previously stated that the industry was awaiting the result of the iiNet trial versus AFACT.