Illegal downloading in government’s sights as Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper takes aim at consumers, ISPs

July 29, 2014

THE days of downloading your favourite TV show for free could be numbered, with details emerging about the plans to crack down on internet piracy.

A leaked discussion paper on the issue, published by news website Crikey, outlines measures the Federal Government is considering to curb illegal downloading, including forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to block offending websites and punishing customers caught infringing copyright.

But John Stanton from ISP industry body Communication Alliance says the proposals overlook a major source of the problem — that the content consumers want is not accessible or affordable enough.

Australians are among the worst offenders in the world when it comes to illegal downloading.

A UMR Research study cited in the draft paper found that an estimated 21 per cent of all Australians over the age of 18 had engaged in online piracy.

Furthermore, when Game of Thrones’ fourth season premiered in April, more people in Australia illegally downloaded the program than anywhere else in the world. Australia accounted for 11.6 per cent of the piracy, and Melbourne was the worst-offending city on the globe, according to TorrentFreak.

Aussies are also notorious for downloading top-shelf US dramas Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad and Homeland.

The paper’s introduction, co-signed by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, says illegal downloading is putting at risk Australia’s $90 billion copyright industries, which employ more than 900,000 people.

“Digitisation means that these industries are particularly susceptible to harm from online copyright infringement with the potential to directly impact on the Australian economy and Australian jobs,” the paper states.

HOW IT COULD AFFECT YOU

The draft paper floats a number of possible ways to punish customers who continue to download content illegally.

It references the US’s Copyright Alert System, which notifies customers when they have breached copyright laws. If subscribers ignore the notices, ISPs can punish them by slowing their internet speed or blocking them from browsing the web altogether until they contact their provider.

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