Pat Pilcher: Aussies to get three strikes law and Internet blockade?


The Aussies are looking at an Internet blockade and setting up a 3 strikes law as the Abbott Government seeks to crack down on piracy.

The move was signalled by Aussie Attorney-General George Brandis, who said he would make ISPs block access to piracy related websites and set up a 3 strikes law.

Brandis' statements appear to be at odds with recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission, who said a "fair use" provision is needed otherwise consumers transferring legitimately obtained content to personal devices would be breaking the law.
Their recommendations haven't washed and Brandis has said he'd prefer there were "no more amusing references to videotapes".

Rhetoric aside, the reality is that blocking piracy related sites hasn't worked while the effectiveness of 3 strikes legislation is dubious.

The Dutch have already admitted defeat, and the UK's blockade is the online equivalent of the marginot line, bypassed by millions thanks to browser plugins.

Passing a 3 strikes law may appease Hollywood, but the reality is that little will change for Australians. For any 3 strikes law to be effective, piracy first has to be detectable within Australia.

Technologies such as proxy servers and seed boxes are well known, easily obtainable and make detecting copyright infringement next to impossible. The Pirate Bay have also said they'll be launching a decentralised setup which could also make detecting piracy in the future a tough proposition.

The Aussies' piracy crackdown needs to be set against the decline of traditional media. Yesterday US pay TV giant, Comcast announced that they were looking to acquire Time Warner.

The sheer amount of dollars involved (US$45.2 billion) has seen the deal attract considerable media attention, but the reality is that the merger is happening while a growing number of subscribers for both cable operators continue to dump cable TV in favour of digital content in what has become known as "cord cutting".

This begs that the following be asked. Is it the role of a government to protect a dying industry, or to foster growth and innovation?

With fast broadband becoming the norm, a growing number of people are likely to turn their backs on traditional media. Implementing legislation which has proved ineffective elsewhere isn't going to change that any time soon.

Australians are also likely to be hit with a two punch combo as the costs of administering copyright infringement laws are passed on to tax payers. ISPs faced with escalating compliance costs will also pass have little choice but to pass these onto customers.

- NZ Herald

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