The Controversial Bill To Stop Australians Torrenting Is About To Pass

Bad news for anyone who contributed to the 15.4 million illegal downloads last year: the controversial bill to make torrenting and streaming a complete ball ache is about to pass. 

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 has been given the green light by a Senate committee, with support from both the Coalition and Labor. Only The Greens opposed it, warning that the Bill will give “significant new censorship power” to the court and copyright holders.

Barring minor changes, it’s likely to be passed.

The Bill is designed to allow TV and movie rights holders to ask a judge to block Australians accessing online locations that have the “primary purpose of facilitating copyright infringement” – i.e. Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, Watch Series, etc.

Whether it will be used to block Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as well is another matter.

Although the Bill was designed to do just that, the Senate committee didn’t clarify whether VPNs would be affected. They noted that “VPNs are unlikely to meet the ‘primary purpose test’, with zero follow up explanation. 

Consumer advocacy group Choice isn’t sold. “This is a very broad law, with very broad powers,” said campaign manager Erin Turner. “We’re yet to see how copyright owners would specifically use it.” 

She suggested that VPNs designed and marketed as allowing Aussies to access overseas content, such as Getflix, would be targeted first. VPNs are not illegal per say, with many people using them to protect their online privacy.

Choice has slammed the Bill, saying that it is essentially blocking an overseas competitor. “People using VPNs [to access Netflix US] has been one of the greatest drivers of competition in the Australian streaming market,” Ms Turner said.

The effectiveness of the scheme has been recommended for review after two years.

Meanwhile, forking out $35 for a Foxtel subscription to feed your Game of Thrones addiction is looking like a grim reality.

Stop all the torrents, cut off the VPN
Prevent the streamer from downloading new Revenge
Silence the Pirate Bay, and with your laptop’s hum
Throw out the Bill, don’t let the copyright holders come.

Via Fairfax / News Corp