News Corp Wants to Hold ISPs Responsible For Piracy

With its significant entertainment business interests, media giant News Corp has been making its feelings known in the ongoing piracy debate. After targeting Google last month the company says it wants the government to tighten up the law in order to hold Australian ISPs responsible for the actions of their pirating subscribers.

throttleRupert Murdoch’s News Corporation spin-off not only owns several major newspapers, but also has a stake in Foxtel, the Australian pay TV network that airs Game of Thrones.

The hit TV show has become a pivotal talking point in the copyright debate, so it comes as little surprise that News Corp is now regularly throwing its own anti-piracy opinions into the mix.

Last month, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson fired shots at Google for operating sophisticated algorithms that “know ­exactly where you are and what you’re doing” yet at the same time “pleading ignorance” on piracy.

“[It’s an] untenable contradiction,” Thomson said.

Now the media outfit is making its feelings known again in a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade, regarding the Free Trade Agreement between the governments of Australia and South Korea.

Specifically, News Corp doesn’t like the fact that following the failed Hollywood legal onslaught against iiNet, Aussie ISPs are able to distance themselves from the pirating habits of their subscribers.

“As News Corp Australia has expressed previously, we are concerned that the amendments made to the Copyright Act 1968 in 2004 regarding secondary liability of ISPs do not operate as intended,” the company writes.

“Specifically, the provisions of the Act – although intended to do so – do not provide rights holders with means to protect rights online as the provisions are technology specific and ineffective in dealing with online copyright infringement as it manifests today, nor as it may manifest in the future.”

The law as it stands, News Corps adds, is not “readily suited to enforcing the rights of copyright owners in respect of widespread infringements occasioned by peer-to-peer file sharing, as occurs with the BitTorrent system.”

Looking towards a solution, News Corp supports the position taken by Attorney-General George Brandis back in February when the Senator noted that Section 101 of the Copyright Act should be reformed so that an ISP which authorizes the copyright infringements of others can more effectively be held liable for those infringements.

“News Corp Australia supports the Attorney-General’s approach to the issue of online copyright infringement, and looks forward to contributing to ensuring domestic copyright protection provisions function as intended, and the balance between obligation (secondary liability) and benefit (safe harbour) is re-established,” the company concludes.

Whether ISPs will relish taking on more responsibility is up for debate, but it’s safe to say that one – Hollywood nemesis iiNet – definitely won’t. The company’s Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby has been in the press on numerous occasions in the past few weeks taking a particularly aggressive stance against most government and entertainment industry proposals.

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