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Oz ISPs propose copyright enforcement trial

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Australia’s Communications Alliance has released a discussion paper covering a proposed scheme for dealing with copyright infringement on the Internet.

The scheme is designed to try and balance the increasingly-aggressive stance taken by groups such as AFACT with ISPs’ and consumers’ rights.

The proposal is for an 18-month trial of the scheme, followed by a audit to determine its effectiveness. The Alliance also proposes that only qualified rights-holders be admitted to the trial, following an audit of the technology used to detect infringement, and the processes for issuing notices.

Upon receipt of the notice from the rights-holder, an ISP would then forward an “education notice” to the account holder, if it is able to identify the customer from the IP address in the infringement notice.

The education notice will tell the customer that the copyright infringement notice has been issued, give the customer an opportunity to respond, direct the recipient to various educational materials, and warn them about the penalties in the Copyright Act. This will also include a period of 21 days grace, in which the ISP is not required to take any further action.

The education notice will be followed by three warning notices if the infringing behaviour continues, the code proposes, with rights-holders allowed to seek the end user’s identity after the three warnings.

Notices will only be valid for 12 months under the proposal, and during the trial, notices will be limited to 100 per month per ISP.

Other features of the proposal include:

* A Copyright Panel which would comprise representatives of ISPs and rights holders, and which will handle appeals;

* The evaluation at the end of the trial will include a cost benefit analysis;

* An independent analysis to determine how the costs of the costs of the trial should be borne.

How the rights-holders respond to the proposal probably depends on how closely it matches closed-door discussions convened earlier this year by the Attorney-General, between AFACT and ISPs. However, AFACT has been named as a signatory to the proposal, along with Telstra, Optus, iiNet, Internode and iPrimus. ®

Correction: While early reports cited AFACT as a signatory, this was not correct. Steve Dalby, iiNet's chief regulatory officer, has posted a note to the Whirlpool mailing list correcting The Register on this point, which we appreciate. ®

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