Monday, 21 November 2016 23:44

Government survey supports Internet Australia’s position on site-blocking, says Patton Featured

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Government survey supports Internet Australia’s position on site-blocking, says Patton Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Internet Australia has again come out in strong opposition to the use of site-blocking in the fight against Internet “piracy”, claiming that a copyright infringement survey by the federal government supports its case against site-blocking.

IA, the not-for-profit peak body representing Internet users, says the Department of Communications and the Arts released its survey a few days ago, commenting that it revealed there was an “overall decrease in the level of copyright infringement in the past year largely due to the increase in the availability of online streaming”.

The department also notes that there has been a fall in the proportion of Australian Internet users accessing unlawful content online and a rise in the uptake of streaming services.

“The results of Australia’s second survey of online copyright infringement showed that 23% of Australian Internet users were accessing unlawful online content. This is down from 26% in 2015, when the survey was first conducted,” the department notes.

The report also notes that, "The results determine that the pricing and availability of online copyright content, such as streaming services, has led to a reduction in infringement".

IA chief executive Laurie Patton notes that IA has long objected to site-blocking, citing overseas experience that it has a limited, often only temporary, effect and is not a long-term solution to unlawful content downloading.

"Our view, which was the prime minister's stated position when he was communications minister, is that the best way to deal with unlawful downloading is for rights holders to make their content accessible at reasonable prices. This latest report supports this proposition in that the entry of Netflix and local streaming services has indeed seen a significant decline."

Patton says that, while IA supports the protection of intellectual property rights, it objects to site-blocking on technical grounds.

"Site-blocking interferes with the efficient working of the Internet and has the potential to create adverse unintended consequences", Patton says, also questioning the need for site-blocking in Australia.

"The rights holders have never actually established that they are really losing significant amounts of revenue here in Australia. One of the key disagreements between the parties arguing for and against site-blocking is who should pay the significant costs of site-blocking.

"Our ISP members don't see why they should be expected to absorb the costs of implementing a scheme designed to help a third party, especially one they don't believe will work,". Patton says, reconfirming IA’s long-held position.

IA also questions the purpose of the site-blocking campaign here in Australia.

"It looks to me like we've become collateral damage in a global PR war waged primarily by Hollywood and aimed at more serious offender countries," Patton concludes.

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