Copyright Industry Keeps Asking For More In Australia: VPN Ban Next?

Techdirt has been following the rather depressing saga of the Australian government’s attempt to ram through new copyright powers for some time now. As TorrentFreak reports, under great pressure from the Australian government, local ISPs have put together a draft voluntary code for dealing with alleged copyright infringement (pdf). The Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) has now weighed in, and basically wants everything to be much harsher, including the following:

“The Code does not place a general obligation on ISPs to monitor and detect online copyright infringement,” the publishers write. “AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include such a duty using ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques.”

“The Code does not require ISPs to block access to infringing material. AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include provisions obliging ISPs to take such action following provision of the relevant information by Rights Holders and/or following discovery of copyright infringing websites by ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques,” the publishers write.

“AMPAL submits that ideally additional options should be available to Rights Holders in the form of sanctions or mitigation procedures to be imposed on Account Holders,” the publishers write.

In other words, AMPAL wants to get ISPs do all the dirty work, turning them into both cops and executioner. But AMPAL isn’t alone in coming up with disproportionate responses to the ISP code. Via ZDNet, here’s a comment from BBC Worldwide (pdf), the wholly-owned commercial arm of the British broadcaster:

The Code is ill-equipped [to] deal with consumers who spoof or mask their IP addresses to avoid detection, behaviour that we believe will increase as a result of an introduction of a notice scheme.

The footnote for that point refers to a TorrentFreak article about Canadian piracy notifications boosting demand for VPNs, which confirms that what BBC Worldwide is concerned about here is the ease with which Australians will be able to use things like VPNs to evade sanctions by masking their IP address.

Of course, anyone who understands how the Internet works — and how people use it — has been pointing this out for years. But the worrying thing is that the copyright industry seems to be surprised by this possibility. Knowing the way it thinks, and its complete indifference to the collateral damage it might cause, the fear has to be that the next stage in its war on sharing will be demanding that governments ban VPNs.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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