Rising Incidents of illegal file sharing on a global platter have compelled the responsible people to sit together and think of a unanimous solution that could combat such a problem from the roots. Of the many countries seriously affected by copyright infringement in the form of file sharing, Australia is among the most suffered ones. Despite of its persistent attempts to nail down this illicit act, the tug of war between the right holders and the users of internet ceases to find its end. In a major outbreak in November this year, apropos to this burning issue, several concerned groups have joined forces to give way for a consensus without attacking on the users’ right to freedom in the form of ‘A Scheme to Address Online Copyright Infringement’, proposal. Let us know in deep what is this scheme all about
Motive of Scheme
It intends to eradicate the problem of copyright infringement by spreading proper awareness among the internet users. For this, the concerned right holders have proposed a warning through letter process that includes Education Notice, three Copyright Infringement Notice’ (CIN) and finally a Discovery Notice. If despite of receiving all these notices, the account holder fails to halt the file sharing activities, he would be sent a court order on behalf of the rights holders.
Who Proposed it?
It is a combined effort of the responsible bodies including the Communications Alliance, telecom companies such as Ericsson Australia and AAPT, the Internet Industry Association (IIA) and finally a group of 5 internet Service providers namely, iiNet, Internnode, iPrimus, Telstra Bigpond and Optus.
‘A Scheme to Address Online Copyright Infringement’ postulates the framework of a ‘Notice Scheme’ that intends to educate the internet users of the activities that they should perform if their internet connection is found to have been involved in the act of copyright infringement. The rights holders would monitor the file-sharing networks for any such unlawful practice with the help of duly tested and pre-approved systems. They would then send the notices to the respective ISPs within 14 days time that are providing services to the users of IP address who are found to be infringing the online content. The ISPs would in turn have to send the infringement notice to the user or account holder of the concerned IP address in the next 14 days.
Education Notice: Whenever an internet user is approached for the very first time in connection with the illegal file-sharing matter, he/she would receive would be entitled to get an ‘Education Notice’. It will inform the subscribers about the infringement being carried out on their part without mentioning the original content. This will be followed by the necessary information regarding the location from where they can access legal content.
Copyright Infringement Notice (CIN): If despite of receiving Education Notice, if the user is again found accused of infringing within a time span of 1 year, the scheme proposes to send him a ‘Copyright Infringement Notice’ (CIN). Alike the education notice, this one would contain the details of the content thus infringed as well.
Divorce Notice: This would be the last nail in the coffin. If the internet subscriber fails to respond to the education notice and three consecutive CINs, the ISPs would be entitled to send them a final notice that would be known as ‘Discovery Notice’. Once this notice has been sent, it would depend on the rights holders to decide the fate of the user found guilty of copyright violation. They may send a court order to know the identity of the subscribers with the intention to sue them under the law.
At any of the stages of the proposal, it gives the subscribers the opportunity to appeal against the notice. Moreover, unlike the stiff laws in other parts of the world such as in New Zealand, the ISPs have proposed no ‘graduated response’ as a measure to deal with the infringers who are persistent in carrying out the infringement. This simply negates the possibility of internet suspension or disconnection and tries to being the things under control through healthier ways unlike what New Zealand did. Through such a positive effort, the rights holders believe that the serious issue of copyright infringement in Australia could be controlled to a great extent. As per John Stanton, CEO at Communications Alliance, the Notice Scheme would act significantly in protecting the consumer rights, making the consumers aware of the ill effects of infringement and in assisting them to access the content over the internet through legal ways.
The incidents of illegal file sharing have only increased throughout these years. With a scheme of such nature, based on warnings, the ISPs would run the need to send more notices to the internet subscribers than usual. However, as an irony, the proposal restricts the individual ISPs to send out a maximum of 100 notices. To add further, when combined together the warnings of all the ISPs should not exceed 10,000 in the starting trial period of 18 months. The operating cost to see this scheme the light of the day is also big concern.
The scheme is a welcome effort on the part of the rights holders and indeed protects the individual rights of the internet subscribers without affecting their freedom. However, considering the limitations of warnings for the infringing subscribers, the proposal may have to acquire the backseat. Hence, to maintain a balance, some positive amendments would be worthwhile.
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Wish you a Happy and Private Internet Life !!