In a bid to educate Australians about illegal downloads, the Communications Alliance has teamed up with Telstra Bigpond, iiNet, Optus, iPrimus and Internode for the creation of a Notice Scheme.
It will target internet users who infringe copyrights under the Copyright Act 1968, such as peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and pirated downloads.
Internet service providers (ISPs) would be required to send education and warning notices to customers whose internet accounts may have been used for file sharing.
However, customer internet accounts would not be terminated or punitive sanctions imposed. Consumers also have the right to appeal if they receive a notice but believe they have not done anything wrong.
The Scheme has the backing of AAPT, Ericsson Australia and the Internet Industry Association (IIA). It is the result of discussions held in 2011 between ISPs, the Federal Government and rights holders — representatives of the movie, music, software, gaming and publishing industries.
Communications Alliance chief executive, John Stanton, said in a statement that the industry proposal was a positive initiative by ISPs to address issues that society had been struggling with for years.
“We believe the Notice Scheme can greatly reduce online copyright infringement in Australia, while protecting consumer rights, educating consumers about how to access legal online content and helping rights holders to protect their rights,” he said.
“Equally important is the need for rights holders to ensure that consumers have access to legal and affordable content online, to reduce the motivation to source content in ways that might be illegal.”
The Scheme would run on a trial basis over an 18 month time frame. Following the trial, an independent evaluation would assess if it had produced changes in consumer behaviour and whether the Scheme should be continued in its initial form or modified.
Stanton added that the proposal by ISPs would require more consultation with rights holders, consumer representatives, the Federal Government and the broader ISP sector before an implementation timetable could be finalised.
Issues for further discussion include:
- How to divide the costs of establishing and operating the scheme between ISPs and rights holders.
- The creation of an industry panel that would be responsible for making educational material available to consumers, and dealing with appeals from customers who receive warning notices but believe they may not be responsible.
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