The Internet Industry Association (IIA) is set to draw up an Industry Copyright Code to clarify the role of ISPs should they be accused of content piracy online.
The move comes after the Full Bench of the Federal Court dismissed AFACT’s appeal of its copyright case against Perth-based ISP, iiNet.
While it was another victory for iiNet after initially winning the case in February 2010, the appeal judgement raised questions around circumstances in which ISPs are liable for copyright infringement by its users.
The judgement opened up the opportunity for rights owners to make ISPs disconnect customers suspected of online piracy provided that additional information and indemnities for wrongful disconnection were offered along with a copyright infringement notice.
“What we want to do now is define for the industry clearer standards so if certain circumstances were to arise, slightly different from the exact issues in the iiNet case, which involved liability we would have an appropriate industry response,” IIA chief, Peter Coroneos, said. “In some respects the ground rules have shifted a bit so therefore we need to develop an appropriate code that enables ISPs to manage their risk in this new environment.”
IIA will first consult with the ISP industry to gather their views on what they see now as their liabilities in order to get an general consensus around an appropriate industry response.
But Coroneos made it clear the IIA did not see disconnection of customers accused of copyright infringement as an appropriate response.
The code is only one aspect of addressing the clash between content owners and ISPs, according to the IIA chief. Ultimately, content holders need to change their business models, he said.
AFACT had said the film industry has been pulling its weight in terms of updating content delivery models. The group noted there were more than 27 legitimate businesses offering legal entertainment content online.
“I acknowledge there has been some progress made over by rights owners regarding content delivery in the last few years but I don’t agree with the proposition that there is no problem here,” Coroneos said.
“There is still what we might term friction in the system making it hard for traditional content services to be offered online and we really want to explore where those impediments are.”
The IIA has also renewed its legislative efforts to extend safe harbour currently in the Copyright Act to cover intermediaries beyond ISPs.
"This has left search providers, social network media, universities, auction sites, hosting and cloud services, corporate networks and others exposed to potential liability for the infringing acts of their users,” Coroneos said in a statement.
"This serious omission impacts on the risk position of such players and impedes innovation and investment in the digital economy.”
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