Internet filter 2.0 given the green light

The Abbott government’s online piracy legislation has been given the go ahead by the Senate committee examining the proposed regime. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday:

The Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Thursday recommended that, subject to some minor amendments, the controversial Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 be passed.

Central to the government’s policy is a website-blocking mechanism – i.e. an internet filter. I’ve previously explained why implementing such a regime is a bad idea.

The IPA’s Chris Berg and I made a submission to the government on these proposals. Our research demonstrated that:

  • ISP-level blocking is easy to evade, through widespread and easy to use technologies that will make injunctive relief ineffective;
  • The ‘dominant purpose’ test is vague, arbitrary, and dangerous given Australia has no fair use copyright exception; and
  • The policy resembles the previous Labor government’s internet filter, and, like the internet filter, represents a threat to freedom of speech and digital liberty.

Chris Berg’s detailed submission on the bill itself is here.

And credit where credit’s due. As reported in The Australian today, the Greens have used a dissenting report to oppose the bill:

“There is a substantial weight of evidence showing that it will be relatively easy to evade the Bill’s provisions, that it does not contain appropriate safeguards, and that it may result in legitimate online sources being blocked,” Greens senator Scott Ludlam wrote.

“Most importantly, there is also a significant weight of evidence showing that the Bill will not meet its aims, as it does not address the underlying cause of online copyright infringement: The continual refusal of offshore rights holders to make their content available in a timely, convenient and affordable manner to Australians.”

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