EFA congratulates iiNet Limited on its historic victory in the High Court in the long-running Roadshow v iiNet case. The High Court has unanimously dismissed claims made by rights owners that an ISP should act to stop copyright infringements by users or be held liable as authorising those infringements.
This means that ISPs don’t have to act on automated notices from worldwide rights societies, or threaten their users with “three-strikes” escalations.
The Chief Justice French and Justices Crennan and Kiefel noted that international approaches to discourage peer-to-peer copyright infringements varied:
The difficulties of enforcement which such infringements pose for copyright owners have been addressed elsewhere, in constitutional settings different from our own, by specially targeted legislative schemes, some of which incorporate co-operative industry protocols, some of which require judicial involvement in the termination of internet accounts, and some of which provide for the sharing of enforcement costs between ISPs and copyright owners.
Following the case, rights owners were quick to demand the Government step in to change the law – presumably to penalise ISPs or introduce a “three-strikes” regime by law. The Government indicated it wanted the closed-door discussions between rights owners and the big ISPs to continue to find an industry-based solution.
EFA has been critical of these secret talks, as commercial interests cannot represent the views of end-users and not-for-profit groups. The High Court did not accept that end-users or ISPs should have to accept automated notices as evidence, but the Government would stand by while the big ISPs and the studios hatch that deal.
Experience overseas shows that the practice of studios prosecuting peer-to-peer use is full of evidential lapses, unjust consequences, grossly-inflated damages and the crushing expense of the legal process. Yet the litigation benefits no creators or artists, just a business model that won’t keep up with the times.
As iiNet CEO Michael Malone said after the trial – the studios can stop piracy by improving online distribution:
“Mr Malone said the film industry should increase the availability of “lawful, online content” in a “timely, affordable and reasonably priced manner” to protect owners’ copyright. Increasing the availability of licensed digital content is the best, most practical approach to meet consumer demand and protect copyright,”
EFA says it’s time to stop propping-up prohibitions against online distribution of worldwide media. The millions of Australians who resort to peer-to-peer file searching don’t want to break the law, they want to change the law.
The 20th Century business model of studio distribution of copyrighted media is broken. Much entertainment media is not for sale in Australia at any price, other outlets offered only in other countries or via a single distribution channel at inflated prices.
Australia pays double for a fraction of available media for no good reason. Creators and artists also deserve a world-wide platform for their work, unencumbered by studio cartels and complex cross-licencing arrangements.
EFA calls upon the Government to resist knee-jerk toughening of copyright laws, and instead take time to ask the public how the copyright laws should serve the public and creators in a digital, global market.