iiNet, Comms Alliance calls action on legit movie downloads

Also proposes independent body to look at piracy cases

The Communications Alliance has come out in support of Perth-based internet service provider (ISP) iiNet’s discussion paper, calling for greater access to legitimate online portals for Australians and the formation of an independent body to assess copyright infringement claims.

The Alliance and ISPs plan to meet with content owners, including Hollywood studios, this month to discuss the paper.

“We want to continue that dialogue and broaden the discussion to include other stakeholders to help address copyright concerns and foster greater access for Australian consumers to legitimate and commercially available online content,” said Communications Alliance chief executive, John Stanton, in a statement.

In the iiNet report, entitled Encouraging Legitimate Use of Online Content, the ISP proposed that the model would include an independent body who would look at copyright infringements, identify the IP address, issue a warning to the account holder and, if necessary, proceed to fines.

Customers who believed the allegation of movie piracy was incorrect could appeal to the independent body. If the infringement was due to someone else accessing the customer’s insecure wireless access, it would be referred by the independent body to their ISP for technical assistance.

“Whatever the solution, we believe it will be more robust and sustainable if it flows from a shared desire from content owners and ISPs to agree arrangements that benefit consumers and all sides of the industry,” said iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, in a statement.

The report also said that while Hollywood studios spend millions, or in some cases billions, on promoting movies, the current business model of staggered release dates has created frustration.

“We believe that where there is timely access to legal content, customers will readily pay or access advertising funded content," said Dalby. "While the Hollywood studios are late to the party, the music, print, software, computing and gaming industries have made great use of online digital distribution."

He pointed out in the report that the world’s biggest music retailer, iTunes, is online and the largest bookstore, Amazon, is also online.

“The software and gaming companies would find it difficult to survive without online distribution," said Dalby. "None of the industries embracing digital distribution use anything like ‘windowing’ or geographic discrimination.

"Their markets are global, their distribution is largely uniform.”

The release of the report follows the recent dismissal of an appeal lodged by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), who alleged iiNet had authorised the copyright infringement over its users.

It suggested ISPs may in future be held liable for allowing copyright infringements by their users.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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