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Australia Abandons Three-Strike Anti-Piracy Program

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Australia has officially abandoned the controversial three-strike anti-piracy program nine months after it was scheduled to be implemented. Nicknamed “Copyright Notice Scheme Code”, the program had to be canned after serious differences emerged between copyright holders and Australian ISPs regarding the prohibitive cost of implementing the scheme. The copyright holders have confirmed their unwillingness to pursue the program in a letter written to Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the country’s regulatory body which oversees media and telecommunications. The news comes soon after Dallas Buyers Club LLC, copyright holder for the movie Dallas Buyers Club; decided not to challenge an Australian’s court decision of not forcing the ISPs to reveal the names of the internet users who were pirating the movie.

For years, internet piracy has been identified as a big problem in Australia. Copyright owners, both from Australia and around the world; allege that Australian pirates have caused millions of dollars of damage to them by downloading movies, TV shows, music and software illegally. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that TV shows and movies often reach Australia months after they get released in United States and often cost a lot more to watch legally. Thus, it is no surprise to see that a lot of Australian viewers take the dubious route of downloading content illegally from the internet.

To combat the piracy menace in the country, Australian ISPs along with the copyright holders drafted and submitted the Copyright Notice Scheme Code to AMCA last year. The program was scheduled to be implemented in September’ 2015 but was delayed due to differences between the two parties. As per the scheme, Australians found to be indulging in copyright infringement activities via torrenting were supposed to receive warning letters from their ISPs. A person repeating the offence was to face temporary disconnection (or slower speeds) while the third infringement could land the person in a serious legal trouble. The program was designed to be very similar to 3-Strike programs implemented in countries like United States.

While both the rights holders and ISPs agreed to the basic framework of the scheme, they could not agree upon how to share the cost burden of the program. Since the program involved preparing the infringement notices, sending them to the pirates and subsequently dealing with the calls of the customers, the total cost associated with the scheme was becoming prohibitively expensive (as much as $16 to $20 per infringement activity). The two parties even discussed implementing an automated system instead of the manual intimation process but it would have cost ISPs millions of dollars right at the onset. So, it is clear to see why the Australian ISPs were not comfortable with implementing such a costly and cumbersome scheme.

While the three-strike anti-piracy program has been officially abandoned in Australia, other anti-piracy measures may yet see the light of the day. Copyright holders, including Foxtel and Village Roadshow; have been pushing for blocking of popular movie streaming and torrent sites within the country which could have a significant impact on the overall piracy scene in Australia.

November 22, 2016

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