As shown by the recent record breaking piracy downloads of four leaked episodes from Game of Thrones Season 5 (figures estimate around 32 million people globally downloaded the pirated episodes), internet piracy is a huge problem.
The Australian Government has international obligations to provide protection for copyrighted material. Recent measures taken by the Australian Government are aimed at reducing online copyright infringement in Australia. This is the first systemic response in over a decade.
The first of these measures required industry rights holders, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and consumer groups to jointly develop an industry code aimed at changing consumers behaviour in downloading infringing material and instead steer them towards lawful sources of content. On 8 April 2015, following collaboration between the three groups, the Copyright Notice Scheme Code 2015 (Code) was submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for registration. Under the Code, residential fixed internet consumers who have allegedly infringed copyright will receive an escalating series of infringement notices. Although the Code does not contain explicit sanctions against internet users found to be infringing copyright, it does provide for discovery processes through which ISPs can assist rights holders in deciding whether to take legal action against persistent infringers.
The second measure is the introduction of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015. The Bill, which proposes amendments to the Copyright Act, if passed will enable rights holders to apply directly to the Australian Federal Court for a “no fault” site blocking injunction against an ISP that provides access to an infringing website or service, operated outside of Australia. If this law passes it will bring Australia into line with similar laws in the Europe, the United Kingdom and Singapore. The Bill is currently before the House of Representatives.