Government Must Clarify Website Blocking Costs
The Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, should heed a Parliamentary Committee call for the Government to clarify the cost implications of its planned website blocking regime, according to Communications Alliance.
Commenting on the release of the report of the inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs into the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, released today, Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said the Government should carry through on its earlier commitments.
“The Government’s policy proposal, in July 2014, stated categorically that ‘Rights holders would be required to meet any reasonable costs associated with an ISP giving effect to an order (to block a website)…….. ‘’, Mr Stanton said. “But this core commitment by Government – which is important to minimise the costs on internet consumers -‘went missing’ when it drafted the legislation.
“The Committee has rightly pointed out that the Government has left cost issues opaque in the legislation and told the Government to clarify that service providers should not have to bear the cost of implementing orders to assist copyright holders.”
Communications Alliance welcomed the recommendation that the effectiveness of the Bill be reviewed after two years of operation, given the conflicting international evidence as to whether site-blocking can make a material difference to the frequency of online copyright infringement.
Mr Stanton also welcomed the Committee’s enthusiasm for the creation of a ‘landing page’ at the blocked online location, specifying that the site has been blocked by a court order.
“This is a good and practical step, but the landing page should be hosted and paid for by the relevant rights holder – as happens today when Interpol seeks the blocking of offensive or illegal websites,” Mr Stanton said.
He congratulated the Committee on resisting pressure from right holders to abandon the “primary purpose” test in the legislation, but supported the Government position as to requirement for Courts to take account of the factors specified in the s115A (5) of the Bill when deciding whether to grant an injunction.
“Communications Alliance continues to give guarded support to the legislation but urges Parliament to amend it before passage, to provide greater clarity, promote effectiveness and help avoid unintended costs and consequences for law-abiding Australian internet users”.