Australian Rights Holders, ISPs Shelve Anti-Piracy Scheme

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Rights holders and ISPs in Australia have quietly shelved a plan to monitor and notify repeat copyright infringers, citing issues on how to pay for it. In a letter to the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) last month, John Stanton of the Communications Alliance and Bruce Meager of Foxtel admitted to being at an impasse, despite agreeing on the principle elements of the so-called Copyright Notification Scheme (CNS).

"It has not proved possible to reach agreement on how to apportion all of the costs for the overall operation of the CNS," the letter said, according to reports. "This lack of agreement is not due to any shortage of good-faith effort by the parties. Efforts to resolve the impasse included the joint commissioning of a comprehensive study by an independent consultant to identify the range of real-world costs that would be incurred."

The CNS was devised as a multi-step process that would start with rights holders sending lists of IP addresses of infringers to the ISPs, who would then cross-check those addresses with account holders. The ISPs would send the first of three possible notices over a 12-month period, with each letter becoming more dire depending on the individual’s response (or lack thereof). If all warnings go unheeded, the ISP is obligated to make the user’s identity available through court order.

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This labor-intensive scheme was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 1, 2015, but it was pushed back in order to work out costs. 

The ACMA letter was written on behalf of all ISPs and various rights holders, including the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), Music Rights Australia and the Australasian Performing Rights Association, among others. The letter recommends revisiting the scheme in a year.

"In the meantime, ISPs and rights holders are committed to continuing efforts to combat online copyright infringement through education programs and their ongoing commercial undertakings," the letter noted. "We hope that recent changes in the market will help reduce the level of infringement."