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News Corporation Australia has used an inquiry by the nation's Senate into a proposed Australia/South Korea free trade agreement to suggest internet service providers become copyright enforcers.

In its submission to the inquiry (number 56 in the list that starts here), News backs proposals in the treaty to criminalise 'net piracy, and the implementation of legal “incentives” for ISPs to “cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorised storage and transmission of copyrighted materials”.

In spite of repeated assurances by successive governments that the language in such treaties does not require amendment to local legislation, that's exactly what News is requesting. Current legislation, the submission says, does not “provide rights holders with means to protect rights online”.

The News Corp submission echoes a frequent complaint from content industries, that the notorious “iiTrial” protects ISPs at their expense.

In that case, major ISP iiNet fought all the way to Australia's High Court, from which no appeal is possible, to beat off content industries' wish that it be made responsible for the copyright infringement of its customers.

This still rankles in the halls of News Corp, which says what it wants is “workable and technology-neutral provisions” to protect it.

“News Corp Australia … looks forward to contributing to ensuring domestic copyright protection provisions function as intended, and the balance between obligation (secondary liability) and benefit (safe harbour) is re-established”, the submission states.

With Murdoch-owned organs around the world generally sharing sentiments on most matters, it's not a stretch to imagine that ISP liability is therefore News Corp's preferred position worldwide. This submission may therefore not be the last such suggestion. ®

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