New copyright Bill passes Senate

New copyright laws may see information censored, along with illegal content.

New copyright Bill passes Senate

Many Australians may soon have to change their internet behaviour after a controversial copyright Bill passed through Senate earlier this week.

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 will mean that Australians may find it a lot more difficult to download pirated movies and music once the proposed legislation becomes law. The Bill passed 37–13, with both the Coalition and Labor’s support. The Greens opposed it, along with Senators David Leyonhjelm, Glenn Lazarus and Ricky Muir.

The new Bill means that rights holders can apply to a Federal Court to block access to websites offering free content that violates copyright law. Should they be successful, ISPs such as Telstra would then have to comply with a court order to shut off access to the offending sites – potentially at the ISP’s expense.

The film, music and TV industries are happy with the outcome. Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association’s Simon Bush has been a staunch proponent for website-blocking laws for many years. “It’s a fantastic day and a really positive sign for the creative content industry, which can invest more as a result,” he said.

“We have a huge problem with these sites,” said Vanessa Hutley from Music Rights Australia. “They make only money for the people who operate it, and so this will be an important arm for rights holders to protect their rights.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam believes there could be a better solution.

“There is increasing evidence to suggest that site-blocking is not the most effective means of stopping piracy,” claims Senator Ludlam. “The government is ignoring the opportunity to work with content providers and remove the reasons for people currently accessing content through torrents and other sources. Just deliver content in a timely and affordable manner, and piracy collapses.”

Australian National University’s Dr Matthew Rimmer says, “It’s a very dark day for the internet in Australia because there’s been bipartisan support for this Luddite censorship Bill.” Dr Rimmer is worried that controversial information that may be in the public interest, such as that released by WikiLeaks could be censored at the government’s whim.

There are also concerns that the new Bill could block providers of legitimate content, which happened in an embarrassing ASIC mishap not so long ago, when the watchdog mistakenly blocked access to about 250,000 innocent websites whilst attempting to obstruct just one fraudulent site.

A lack of definitions within the Bill, as well as several other issues, also remain unaddressed. The government has indicated that it will review the effectiveness of the Bill in 18 months time.

Read more at www.smh.com.au
Read more at www.sbs.com.au
Read more at www.engadget.com
Read more at www.arstechnica.com

Opinion: Is this the way to go?

It’s no surprise that the film and TV industry are the biggest advocates for this Bill. After all, they are the ones feeling the pinch when their content is freely distributed online. And if protecting Australian jobs and business interests are the primary motives behind passing such a law, then this could be a windfall.

But apart from the obvious benefits to the music, film and TV industries, how will Australia’s new copyright law changes affect consumers?

As far as your download habits; it depends upon what you do now. If you are one of the many Australians who download your favourite TV shows to watch at your leisure, the proposed legislation, if passed, will make it more difficult for you to locate this type of content.

I spoke to Ryan Boutland, our resident tech guru, and one of his concerns is that if streaming services, such as Presto and Netflix, become the primary vehicle for watching creative content online, then our internet infrastructure will not cope with the load. This means that whatever paid content you view will be of poorer quality. And if you think our internet speeds are slow now, just wait until everyone is streaming online content.

And we both share concerns that we may be venturing down a dangerous path of censorship, similar to countries such as China, North Korea and Cuba, which have total control over all internet-connected computers.

Still, ISP filtering may not be all too effective, as browsers can simply use web proxies and VPNs to side step any blocks that are imposed. And contrary to the belief that this new law will prevent users from accessing illegal content, traffic to The Pirate Bay actually increased after the UK introduced similar legislation.

Assuming ISPs will have to cover the estimated $130,000 per year in maintaining this law, will we, as consumers, then have to pay even more for our already below standard internet? Well, that may be up to the Federal Court to decide. One thing’s for sure; the ISPs won’t just wear the costs.

And on the subject of costs, according to consumer advocate CHOICE, it’s prohibitive prices and the lack of available content that are the main reasons many currently resort to piracy in the first place.

Scott Ludlam may have a point about the new copyright laws not being the right way to go. We’ll have to wait and see the results in 18 months time. That is, if we’re allowed to see them.

What do you think of the new copyright laws? Do you feel that the government is actually looking after the interests of Australians, or merely acting as a puppet for ‘big media’? Will the new laws affect you?





    COMMENTS

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    dougie
    25th Jun 2015
    10:27am
    If the powers that be can block copywrite sites why can they not block those site which radicalise young people which abuse young people or which coerce young ones into inappropriate behaviour. Of course they could by do they wish to no! Why not you ask? they see it as an infringement of the rights of some people. What garbage - if steps are not taken to ensure the protection of our society from such sites then we are going to be lost forever in the mire of garbage posted to sites and freely available.
    I know that this sounds as if I am against the world but I do have young grandchildren whom I would like to see protected from this onslaught of garbage.
    pete@nakedhydroponics
    25th Jun 2015
    12:16pm
    I agree that children should always be protected. That's what parents and grandparents are for. Allowing governments to restrict access to information is the first step on a road that can only lead to misery for the masses.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    1:12pm
    "If the powers that be can block copywrite sites why can they not block those site which radicalise young people which abuse young people or which coerce young ones into inappropriate behaviour."

    Because the sites are operating illegally and those using them are committing the offense of stealing. The other sites you mention are not illegal; offensive may be, immoral may be, but not illegal and they do not by and large, actively encourage illegal behaviour by their very existence.

    pete@nakedhydroponics is right. It is the parent's (or other care givers') role to protect their children. Not the Government.
    dougie
    25th Jun 2015
    4:27pm
    KSS
    I agree with you on both points but surely the Governments around the world could close some of these pornographic sites down or at least limit their availability to young and easily influenced young ones. I do not see this as Big Brother but just as a kindly family member looking after younger siblings.
    TREBOR
    27th Jun 2015
    6:40pm
    All those sites go through a carrier, the carrier can chop them any time.
    meow
    25th Jun 2015
    10:54am
    several years ago I wrote to everybody I could asking for a site proclaiming to show you how to keep a kitten in a bottle called bonsai cats. Obviously someones idea of a sick joke but who knows how may idiots would try it? Apparently it was impossible to block this site or have it taken down as the owner simply moved it somewhere else. It's also apparently impossible to take down porn sites and pedophile sites. So how come its now possible to take down downloading sites?
    I believe the y should aim at the cause of downloading in Australia, the fact that we don't get popular shows while they are currently on overseas. The only way is pay tv and they charge an arm and a leg to get different packages to get the content you want. Many people cannot afford this. Some shows never come to Australia at all. Because of the internet we can talk to our relatives and friends overseas and hear about programmes we would like to see and ths is the only way.
    As a last comment its the start of internet censorship, oh yes the reason they can't do the other things I mentioned. !!!!
    Sceptic
    25th Jun 2015
    1:34pm
    Because you cannot afford something is not an excuse for theft.
    dickie
    25th Jun 2015
    11:02am
    Hi i just bought a VPN for $3.00 a month problem solved ...........???????
    Peterrj
    25th Jun 2015
    11:13am
    What a smart Dickie you are. Can you share haw you did it????

    Isn't it amazing that the can't close Kiddie Porn or Radical sites but they can close down pirate sites for movies and music???
    Wstaton
    25th Jun 2015
    11:30am
    Well, there is no money in blocking kiddie porn etc. There are no big money hungry businesses clammering and pushing the government to do something.

    The only backers there are to shutdown kiddie porn etc are you and I and we don't count. We are just mere voters.
    Wstaton
    25th Jun 2015
    11:43am
    As normal this government is trying to fix the result and not the cause.

    Australia must be a laughing stock in the world where we can't get these download legitimately or have to pay horrendous prices compared to the rest of the world.

    Why is this so? because of companies like fox-tel etc wanting to keep downloads out as it will affect their business.

    And we no who owns foxtel and in turn owns this government.

    But this is not in isolation we are the muggins who pay more for apple, google and a host of other more than the rest of the world. In turn we find that the same companies are stripping profits away so not to pay tax.

    When are we going to have a government with the guts to say "enough is enough" Stuff you if you want do do business in our country then you play by our rules not yours. After all not having Iphones sold in this country is not the be-end to end all. I basically think they are overpriced crap anyway as I can do most things on my $73 smart phone that can be done on an Iphone and what's more without all the hassles.

    So government, when are you going to stand up for the peole who elected you.
    pete@nakedhydroponics
    25th Jun 2015
    12:17pm
    Well said.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    1:16pm
    wstaton Australians CAN get the downloads legitimately. They just have to pay more for them and wait a bit longer to get them. It has nothing to do with Fox-Tel per se, after all when you download from them or pay your subscription you are paying the fee. It is the piracy digital sharing sites that give away the digital downloads free or very very low cost that are the problem.

    It is the issue of geo-pricing that needs to be addressed. Not condoning the theft of copyright material.
    Wstaton
    25th Jun 2015
    5:56pm
    Don't think I have said anywhere that I was condoning it I was just expressing the root cause of it.
    Mike
    25th Jun 2015
    12:12pm
    Sites such as TV Torrents were useful if you missed a favourite episode of your favourite show. As they were free to air, no harm done. But talking about movies, programmes, and music, WHY is the cost in Australia much higher than in Asia and the US. This is what leads to pirating. This also applies to just about Everything, clothes, sports shoes, jeans, alcohol, anything you can think of. You can buy a pair of Asics in Asia for a quarter of the price you pay here. Why?, because our Government is Gutless.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    1:19pm
    Because of geo-pricing, that's why. see http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/11/the-australian-government-supports-geo-blocking-that-could-drive-up-video-games-prices/ on digital material

    and here for other goods: https://www.choice.com.au/electronics-and-technology/internet/internet-privacy-and-safety/articles/bypass-geo-blocking
    pete@nakedhydroponics
    25th Jun 2015
    12:23pm
    Copyright laws are just another way for the rich to get richer. How many times must we pay for the same product? Pay TV is still running MASH for God's sake, and we're still paying for it.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    12:30pm
    So don't watch it and cancel your subscription then.
    andromeda143
    25th Jun 2015
    1:05pm
    The genie is long out of the bottle. These repressive laws and this repressive government will never succeed in stopping the masses from obtaining their birthright.
    Centuries ago the Church and State used to control the common people by keeping them in ignorance. Today we have education and the people will always find a way to bypass repression. As long as we are prepared to stand up and fight for our rights, as long as we are prepared to fight for education and not try to retain information for the privileged few.
    Authors, composers, artists etc are entitled to protect their copyright. However, it is not the artists and authors who benefit from monopolies and overpricing of content. It is the large media corporations, the giants like Microsoft and the Movie companies who screw the public for whatever they can get.
    I do not condone piracy, but these corporations deserve all they get and they have it in their own hands to rectify the situation
    Where does the education come in? As soon as this pathetic law is enacted there will be people with the know how, working out new ways to circumvent the laws. It is analogous to the idiotic approach that our governments took toward the Iraq problem. They went in with all guns blazing and came out with egg on their faces.
    In the same way that political, negotiated solutions are better than war and jingoism, likewise negotiated solutions to the copyright problem would be much better than these aggressive and repressive government measures. After all, the politicians who are pushing these measures do not even know what the technologies involve. They are doomed to failure.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    1:07pm
    If someone went into two shops and compared prices on an item, then went to the most expensive shop and took the item they wanted and left the store without paying, would you call that stealing? Or perhaps you send your mate into the store to take the item and give it to you later. Is this stealing and then receiving stolen goods? Or would you justify the activity because the expensive store should not be charging so much and didn't even have it for sale until a month after the cheaper store? Because that is effectively what is happening with digital goods. Stealing through piracy by digital sharing sites is just as wrong as stealing from a bricks and mortar store.

    Justifying theft (a criminal activity by the way) on the grounds that the item is offered on a different timescale and at a higher cost in Australia than other places, is no defence for committing a crime.

    The real argument here should be over the geo-pricing that allows for the cost disparity based on geographic location in the first place. This was at least understandable (if not acceptable) when physical goods (records, CDs, DVDs, software packages etc) were shipped and the costs of freight had to be included. In the days before the internet we were most likely unaware it happened unless we were lucky enough to be rich enough to travel overseas. We know now because at the click of a mouse we can compare costs across the world. It is hard to justify the cost differences even on physical goods given that freight costs in real terms have come down (why are runners half the price in the USA than Australia for example). It is even harder to justify now we have digital content (music, films, tv shows, games and so on) that costs no more to deliver to Australia than anywhere else. But back in 2013 the Government supported geo-pricing, going against an IT report that specifically recommended the removal/blocking of geo-pricing on digital goods.(see here http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/11/the-australian-government-supports-geo-blocking-that-could-drive-up-video-games-prices/).

    There needs to be a balance between the seller's right to charge what they think they can get for their goods, the owner of the copyright - singers, writers, actors etc who have to be paid for their work, and the buyers' desire to purchase at a reasonable price in a reasonable timeframe. But there is no excuse for stealing what you want.
    pete@nakedhydroponics
    25th Jun 2015
    2:04pm
    Before -and during- the American civil war, abolitionists who freed slaves were guilty of stealing, according to the law. Current copyright laws are a human convention, designed to maximise -and extend- profits, even across generations.
    As far as I'm concerned, there is no excuse for blind, thoughtless compliance with bad laws, written and maintained by corrupt politicians.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    2:14pm
    Unless you were the artist pete@nakedhydroponics who was losing out to illegal downloaders of your work. The boot would be on the other foot then I suspect.
    pete@nakedhydroponics
    25th Jun 2015
    2:47pm
    You're feeling sorry for billionaire movie stars, producers and directors? Multi- millionaire singers? What about pharmaceutical companies that make people pay through the nose for life saving treatments, for decades? I'm not suggesting there shouldn't be copyrights, but surely a little reality should shine through occasionally. When people and corporations become egregiously rich, all at the expense of others, shouldn't questions be raised?
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    3:48pm
    Most artists are NOT billionaires by a very long shot. And copyright includes the writers and composers, musicians you have never heard of who play the music, artists whose pictures are ripped off by people using their work in commercial works without paying the copyright fee, all those people who photocopy sections of books or download chapters without obeying copyright, dancers whose wage is well below the average salary and a hundred other artists you know nothing about. Those in the public eye probably add up to less than 5% of the actual artistic workforce who lose on copyright payments every time someone downloads a pirated version of something..
    LiveItUp
    26th Jun 2015
    11:04pm
    I don't object to paying for something but I do object to pay more for something because in live in Australia or my computer is located in Australia. Travel is a good example.
    Kali-G
    25th Jun 2015
    1:58pm
    I think the government is making a huge mistake.
    They should block only the sites that promotes Islam, and like...leave the rest alone.
    Dr Goebbels would be envious of what our democratically elected politicians are dreaming up.
    While at it prosecute the directors and presenters of the Socialist Saboteur ABC...they are a disgrace.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    2:16pm
    So you condone theft of copyright material whilst wanting to block any site promoting a single religion.
    johnny
    25th Jun 2015
    4:28pm
    If the government is serious, they have to do serious reforms of TV industry in this country. There is nothing to watch on TV if you are not a sports fan or shopping addict. The commercial free-to-air TV totally misusing the extra capacity they got through digital TV. We are so far behind the rest of the world as far TV programming availability to the general population is concerned. It is no surprise that Australians are highest downloaders of TV programming.
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    6:01pm
    With the exception of perhaps the ABC, the Government has no input into content broadcast on TV beyond stipulating the percentage content that must be Australian. Blame the TV station owners for the, in your opinion, poor content. It is not the responsibility of the Government.
    Kali-G
    26th Jun 2015
    2:12pm
    You are correct Johnny
    Most programs on TV are damming down type simplistic trash that suits people with maybe 2 digit IQ.
    And for the american shows are racially biased where the black man is always portrayed as the "smart" one and the whites are the dummies....
    Even the stupid " project" has a smart arse mozlem...
    Apart from some English and continental programs there is not much choice.
    We need some form of filtering to make some shown not suitable!
    Wstaton
    26th Jun 2015
    3:09pm
    Well, Well we can see what side of the spectrum someone comes from here. I would appear that every well educated Muslim is a "smart arse" I presume by this that every well educated non Muslim then is not a "smart arse"

    Are we a bit self conscious here about our smarty level.

    I agree there are a few shows on Free to air TV that are a bit simplistic after all one has to cater for the few who want them like that but I find that there are many that are a delight to watch and others that does mean one has to think a bit when viewing them.

    I pay tribute to a couple of my smart arse Muslim friends one who has a masters degree in computer science and his wife who has a PH-D in Micro biology.
    mIKER
    25th Jun 2015
    4:32pm
    I actually support the entertainment industry getting paid for the service they provide, so do not condemn the legislation. However, it makes me wonder why the political parties avoided the opportunity for to ensure that the major players charge the same price in Australia for the same material delivered at much lower cost in the USA, allowing for currency fluctuation. The fact is we are being ripped off!
    And don’t tell me it costs more to deliver “goods” over the internet again it is sheer profiteering, but this Government and the small l liberals formerly known as Labor are all about supporting big business and not the people who vote them into power.
    Not Senile Yet!
    25th Jun 2015
    4:46pm
    Missing the point here.....copyright is for the creator to be paid their just fee on the creation!!!
    Free downloads avoids that payment.....therefore creating theft!!!
    The article suggests most people are happy to pay the royalty copyright fees.....it is the excessive costs charged within Australia compared to the same product overseas that creates the issue!!!
    The Government needs to address the whole issue...not just pat of it!!!
    AS WITH ANY LEGISLATION......they are using Copyright as a means to extend their CONTROL over other areas that was not originally an issue.......by wording loosely contrived to allow them to do so!!!!
    This is unethical!!!!!
    KSS
    25th Jun 2015
    6:08pm
    "...they are using Copyright as a means to extend their CONTROL over other areas that was not originally an issue." Well no the Government isn't Not Senile Yet! The 'excessive costs' are due to geo-pricing not copyright. They are two separate issues. Those in the arts world have been arguing their case against pirated material for years. They are finally getting action to protect their rights to their own intellectual property. That is great for them and as it should be, but it will do nothing to stop geo-pricing which is on just about all goods sold or shipped here.
    Paicey58
    26th Jun 2015
    1:37am
    Having spoken to my children and step children about this new legislation it is very obvious that it will not stop them from working around it. They are all going to get VPN's and still get the films they want online for nothing. It would appear to be a very useless and costly piece of legislation that will not work.
    Oars
    26th Jun 2015
    1:16pm
    This subject can only be discussed sensibly by real IT nerds who have no NO political bias, In other words- NOBODY. We all have some form of vested interest. The scare campaign that suggests that we will be censored like China is straight out stupid. Jees we are dumb in this country. Wake up Wake up wake up. (Did I hear a snoring from the back room again ????)


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