Choice Launches Petition Against “Medieval” Anti-Piracy Notice Scheme

Following on from last Friday’s proposed anti-piracy scheme—in a nutshell: the proposed scheme suggests a “three strike” approach, whereby Internet Service Providers will be able to issue warnings if internet piracy is detected, and will be able to take action after the third strike—Consumer group Choice has taken umbrage with the Communications Alliances‘ scheme (read in full here), made in collaboration with representatives from Telstra, Optus, iiNet, Vodafone and Verizon, among others.

The proposed code states, “ISPs will, on the request of a Rights Holder, facilitate an expedited preliminary discovery process,” which is the kind of thing Choice hasn’t been particularly thrilled about – the group have argued that personal details will be passed on too easily, charges will be laid too freely, there is no cap on fines that can be issued in courts, and ISPs may impose a $25 fee for customers to appeal their “strikes”. 

Regulating internet piracy is, in this day and age, about as simple as following the current state of #auspol: it’s exhausting, sometimes impossible, and everybody involved seems to have been bred from a special corner of hell. It blows. But where Choice really hits the nail on the head is their comparison of anti-piracy schemes from around the world to that of the recently proposed code. 

In a petition where Choice labels the scheme “medieval”, the group points out that Australia’s stance, if Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull were to take the scheme on board, would set us vastly apart from our neighbours and close allies: In the UK, for example, notices are issued on a purely educational basis – they do not lead to court action, according to Choice.

Similarly, in New Zealand, fines are capped at $15,000 and customers can appeal their charges in the High Court. Even in ‘Murica, for pete’s sake, the scheme is looking more reasonable than ours – customers can receive six strikes, and their fines are also capped. Choice has summarised the Australian scheme as such: 

– Notices are a precursor to possible court action;

– The notice scheme lets rights owners gain access to customers’ personal details;

– Complaints against notices are heard by a panel of people mostly chosen by industry;

– Consumers cannot appeal decisions made by the industry panel;

– There is no cap on fines that can be issued by a court.

The system proposed by the industry purports to be educational, but clearly has a focus on facilitating court actions. After a customer receives three notices, a rights holder can compel their ISP to hand over their personal details to make court action easier and faster. There is no limit on the amount of money that a rights holder can seek from the customer.

Nervous collar-yanking indeed. This scheme needs to go, as Shaun Micallef would put it, in to the bin

You can read Choice’s “Education Notice for Malcolm Turnbull”, and also sign their petition against the scheme here.

Via Choice.