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Attorney-General George Brandis considers copyright law changes to target internet piracy.

Senator Brandis is considering asking internet service providers (ISPs) to warn customers who illegally download, or block sites where content can be downloaded illegally.

“This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy,” he said.

“Another option that some stakeholders have raised with me is to provide the Federal Court with explicit powers to provide for third party injunctions against ISPs, which will ultimately require ISPs to ‘take down’ websites hosting infringing content.”

The Attorney-General says he recognises it is a complex reform and there are issues about how the costs of such a scheme are shared between rights holders and ISPs.

John Stanton, head of the Communications Alliance, which represents ISPs, says blocking sites is possible but raises questions.

“It raises all sorts of questions about the freedom of the internet and access to sites, but the Attorney-General talked about the potential for court injunctions requiring ISPs to block access and certainly ISPs will always respond to court orders and comply with them,” he said.

“Certainly [there is a] risk, firstly that you end up blocking things that oughtn’t be blocked, that you reduce the utility of the internet, and so it’s by no means a simple fix.

“There can be unintended consequences by moving in that direction.”

ISPs say studies show such schemes where customers are given increasingly severe warnings do not work.


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