10 December 2014Copyright

Australia confirms plan to clamp down on piracy

Australia’s government has confirmed that in 2015 it will allow right holders to apply for court orders that could lead to the blocking of copyright-infringing websites.

The government will also introduce a law to notify consumers when an alleged copyright breach has occurred and provide information on how they can gain access to legitimate content.

The new measures, which will apply only to websites registered outside of Australia, were outlined in a joint statement by the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the attorney general, George Brandis.

A statement said: “The government will amend the Copyright Act to enable rights holders to apply for a court order requiring ISPs (internet service providers) to block access to a website, operated outside of Australia, which provides access to infringing content.”

Although the proposals have been in the pipeline for some months, in November WIPR’s sister publication TBO reported that the Australian government could introduce plans before Christmas.

The changes will be reviewed 18 months after implementation to “assess their effectiveness”, Brandis and Turnbull said.

The statement added: “The rapid growth of the internet has brought significant challenges to the protection of copyright, due to the ease with which material can be digitally copied and shared, at little or no cost.

“The government has sought the least burdensome and most flexible way of responding to concerns about online copyright infringement, while protecting the legitimate interests of the rights holders in the protection of their intellectual property.”

The announcement follows a consultation held earlier this year on the government’s Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper, which sought public submissions on draft proposals.

Brandis and Turnbull have also written to industry leaders, including ISPs, and right holders, requiring them to develop an industry code that sets out how consumers will be warned about copyright by ISPs.

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