iiNet calls for 'independent umpire' to police copyright

iiNet paper suggests the establishment of an independent body that would be responsible for verifying claims of copyright infringement

Michael Malone

Michael Malone

Australian Internet service provider iiNet has proposed the establishment of an independent body to police copyright infringement by Internet users.

The 'Encouraging Legitimate use of On-line Content' paper, released yesterday by iiNet, also suggests that copyright owners should make their content more readily available online to prevent piracy.

"People are crying out to access the studios' materials, so much so some are prepared to steal it," said iiNet CEO Michael Malone. "A more effective approach would be for the studios to make their content more readily and cheaply available online."

Malone suggests that the film industry and other copyright holders need to work with the ISPs to make content legitimately available. According to iiNet, evidence in the Federal Court case showed one of the most effective ways to reduce piracy is to make the content legally available in a timely fashion, at an affordable price.

"In our opinion one of the most effective ways to reduce piracy is to make the content legally available in a timely fashion, at an attractive price. The Federal Court also recognised the effectiveness of this strategy, with Justice Cowdroy highlighting this in his Judgment, citing supportive comments from the studios and AFACT."

The paper comes on the back of the Federal Court case between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and iiNet, in which the ISP successfully defended claims of copyright breaches.

The iiNet paper suggests an independent body should be responsible for verifying claims of copyright infringement and determining any penalty: "iiNet has developed a model which addresses ISP concerns but one we think remains attractive to all participants, including the sustainable strategy of an impartial referee for the resolution of disputes and the issue of penalties for offenders."

The paper suggests that simply removing an Internet connection without independent oversight is "inappropriate" and recommends a graduated scale of demerit points, fines, shaping or court action for serious repeat offenders: "Infringements can be ranked as minor (say, single instances), major (say multiple instances of different files) or serious (at a commercial level). Each level having prescribed penalties. Repeat infringements may require further definition — say a minimum period of one week between detections, or examples of sharing multiple files."

"We believe that an independent umpire is the only way we can ensure natural justice and protect customer privacy, while allowing copyright owners their rights to pursue alleged infringers," Malone said.

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