Internet Villain Mulls 3 Strikes For Australian Pirates

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Senator Stephen Conroy is a man on a mission. Undeterred that his absurd plans to filter the Internet have earned him the dubious title of Internet Villain of the Year, he is now promising to find a solution to the file-sharing 'problem' by bringing parties together who are already at war, or have little respect for him and his plans.

When it comes to Internet issues in Australia, Senator Stephen Conroy is becoming increasingly unpopular. Best known for his plans to filter the Internet, Conroy has managed to annoy an increasing number of prominent industry figures – the very people he absolutely needs onside if any of his plans are to come to fruition.

Last year the chief of ISP iiNet Michael Malone labeled Conroy as “the worst Communications Minister we’ve had in the 15 years since the [Internet] industry has existed,” and this year the ISP pulled out of filtering trials, saying the filter would not work.

But criticism of Conroy don’t stop there. The proposed filtering system championed by Conroy – ostensibly for the protection of minors – isn’t even supported by those whose interests it claims to protect.

Last week Save the Children, Civil Liberties Australia and the National Children’s and Youth Law Center urged the government to abandon plans for Conroy’s filter saying that it will neither protect children from viewing explicit material, nor stop child pornography from being distributed. Let’s hope Conroy listens to these groups, because he doesn’t seem to listen to anyone else who says his plans are going nowhere.

Last night Senator Conroy unveiled a report entitled Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions while promising the government will “facilitate development of an appropriate solution to the issue of unauthorised file sharing”.

So what kind of imaginative, creative, pioneering ideas and solutions are available for Conroy to nurture and facilitate? From the report;

One solution proposed by copyright owners is a “three strikes” or “graduated response” proposal under which copyright owners would work together with ISPs to identify the ISP’s customers who are suspected of unauthorised file sharing and the ISP would then send a notice on behalf of the copyright owner to that customer advising of this allegation. After multiple notices, a series of escalated steps could be taken with respect to the customer’s account.

The “copyright owners” who submitted this proposal includes anti-piracy group AFACT, currently engaged in hugely expensive legal action against prominent ISP iiNet, blaming it for the copyright-infringing activities of its customers.

Good luck to Conroy in “facilitating” meaningful discussions between these outfits in the future. Their relationship must be at an all-time low already, and getting lower with every dollar-sapping court appearance in these difficult financial times.

But it’s not just the entertainment industry’s relationship with ISPs that’s proving problematic when attempting to find a “solution” to the piracy issue, it appears that ISPs have no time for Conroy either. Last week the Senator was awarded the accolade of “Internet Villain of the Year” by ISPs at the 11th annual Internet Industry Awards, even beating France’s President Sarkozy to the title.

Solving the piracy “problem” is hugely difficult and complex and will only be made more so by the already faltering relationships between parties who appear to have little respect for each other, even before the process begins.

The full report can be downloaded here (.pdf)

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