The Abbott government is considering a major crackdown on online piracy, including forcing internet service providers to block websites that allow users to illegally stream or download movies, music and television shows.
The federal government is also considering implementing a "graduated response scheme" that could lead to consumers' internet accounts being temporarily suspended if they ignore notifications to stop downloading illegal content.
If implemented, the reforms could see popular file sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay blocked by some internet service providers.
Attorney-General George Brandis flagged the changes in a major speech to the Australian Digital Alliance forum on Friday.
"The government will be considering possible mechanisms to provide a legal incentive for an internet service provider to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks," Mr Brandis said.
"This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy. This is a complex reform proposal, and how it is paid for is one of the principal unresolved issues."
He continued: "Another option that some stakeholders have raised with me is to provide the Federal Court with explicit powers to provide for third party injunctions against ISPs, which will ultimately require ISPs to take down websites hosting infringing content."
Such measures would be welcomed by entertainment companies and sections of the artistic community, but are likely to prove controversial among internet users and providers.
Australians are among the most avid users of pirating websites in the world. For example, Australians accounted for 16 per cent of all illegal downloads of television program Breaking Bad.
In his speech Mr Brandis said he stood firmly on the side of content creators in the copyright debate.
"I firmly believe the fundamental principles of copyright law, the protection of rights of creators and owners did not change with the advent of the internet and they will not change with the invention of new technologies."
He described the Copyright Act as "overly long, unnecessarily complex, often comically outdated and all too often, in its administration, pointlessly bureaucratic".
Here we go again. Personally I believe that Australia has such high rates of piracy due to a few major reason.
- Time delay in getting that media. Cinema releases are generally a few months behind and while rare we will sometimes have DVD releases hit the US before we even get a Cinema screening.
- Exclusive rights to content on our one cable company Foxtel, owned by Rupert Murdoch. e.g. Having exclusive broadcast rights to Game of Thrones, with iTunes Season Passes and other legal providers denied the right to supply until the full season is complete.
- Geoblocking limits our access to more legal ways of accessing that content (e.g. Netflix, Hulu)
- Pricing of media can be much more expensive as well. (e.g. TesseracT's latest album Altered State on iTunes is currently AU$8.82 on the US store, but costs AU$24.99 on the Australian store)
I personally believe that after addressing the above points, we will see more people looking to the legal way to obtain media and until then this Internet Filter will just serve as a way to enforce archaic views and further Rupert Murdoch's media monopoly over here.