Australian consumers: ‘Anti-piracy scheme scary’

Australian consumer advocacy body CHOICE has launched a campaign encouraging consumers to help educate the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull about the need for consumer protections in a proposed industry-run anti-piracy ‘education’ notice scheme.

On February 20, the entertainment industry, in partnership with Internet Service Providers, proposed what CHOICE describes as “a heavy-handed” scheme targeting consumers who they believed have breached their copyright.

“The scheme reads like the script of a Hollywood horror film. It would see average teenagers, mums and dads facing uncapped fines and legal threats. It’s truly scary,” claimed CHOICE Campaigns Manager Erin Turner.

“Mr Turnbull needs to step in and rewrite the script on this horror scheme to make it suitable for public viewing. Passing the buck and letting big business drive average Australians into the court system will leave the majority of the community shivering in their seats. The scheme also forces Internet Service Providers to act as an anti-piracy police force on behalf of Hollywood rights holders, handing over personal contact details on the basis of unproven allegations,” she added,

CHOICE is calling on the Minister for Communications to ensure that the final scheme includes, at a minimum:

  • Limits on the total amount of damages that can be sought by copyright owners;

  • A genuinely independent tribunal for consumers who want to appeal a notice, with no cost for lodging an appeal;

  • A requirement for rights holders to tell consumers where they can legally access the content that they allegedly pirated; and

  • A requirement that rights-holders are responsible for any costs, instead of increasing costs for every single Australian Internet user to fund an ineffective policy.

“We are particularly concerned about who will bear responsibility for the scheme’s costs, as this is not made clear in the horror first draft. If ISPs end up paying the lion’s share of administration costs, these are likely to be passed on to their consumers. We don’t think consumers should be footing the bill for an ineffective industry initiative,” she concluded.

Australian consumers are being encouraged to sign a notice to ‘Help educate Malcolm’.

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