We believe that Australians don't want to break copyright laws while using torrents. In response to your discussion paper, we would like to propose a measure which has the potential to reduce copyright infringement. Our idea (detailed in our answers to questions 5 and 9) will help individuals make informed decisions when using torrents, but requires the Government to provide appropriate legislation to support it.
We have developed a site (www.torrenttags.com) as an alternative means to reduce online copyright infringement.
QUESTION 5: "What rights should consumers have in response to any scheme or 'reasonable steps' taken by ISPs or rights holders? Does the legislative framework need to provide for these rights?"
There is currently no method for consumers to protect themselves from breaching copyright, because, in most cases, it is not possible to determine whether downloading a particular file is illegal. Additionally, this situation is exacerbated by the inability of consumers to defend themselves from copyright infringement allegations under current Australian Copyright Law, as it was created for use primarily in business relations. Section 36, subsection (1) and Section 101, subsection (1) of the Copyright Act 1968 have not been updated for over 40 years, yet are actively applied to modern consumers when dealing with online copyright infringement matters.
We believe that individuals should have a legal right (within the legislative framework) to present evidence of any reasonable steps they have taken in Court, in order to protect themselves from copyright infringement allegations. We have developed a database (www.torrenttags.com) where copyright holders can declare ownership of the content that they don't want to be distributed via torrents, and where individuals can check torrent files for claims. We believe that our service can provide individuals with a method to take the aforementioned 'reasonable steps' in order to protect themselves from breaching copyright laws online.
Thus, in response to any scheme or 'reasonable steps' taken by ISPs or rights holders, individuals should have the right to use the steps they took to prevent infringement as evidence in any legal matter involving copyright breaches (for example, that they checked file in question for claims before downloading it). We believe that the legislative framework needs to provide for consumers' rights regarding copyright, in addition to any ISP/Copyright Holder schemes that may be covering them, as these schemes are not universally applicable to all businesses, and therefore do not fully protect consumer rights.
QUESTION 6: What matters should the Court consider when determining whether to grant an injunction to block access to a particular website?
In the event that a site blocking mechanism is in place, a Court should consider whether granting the injunction would have unintended consequences. It could lead to Australians believing that the Government is keeping the Internet free from copyright infringing content, and hence anything they are able to download online is legal.
QUESTION 9: Are there alternative measures to reduce online copyright infringement that may be more effective?
We believe that piracy could be reduced substantially if individuals downloading files on the Internet were informed about whether those files have been declared by their owners to be copyright infringing.
As a practical realisation of this measure, we have developed a site (www.torrenttags.com) where copyright holders from all over the world can declare ownership of the content that they don't want to be distributed via torrents (we accept copyright claims without any content filtration or limits to quantity). After we receive this information, users of BitTorrent (the most popular peer-to-peer1 network) can check torrent files for claims in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to download them.
We believe these measures will be more effective if they are supported by the legislative framework (see answer for Question 5).
Some differences between our site and the DMCA Take Down Policy:
|www.TorrentTags.com||DMCA Take Down Policy|
|Delivers information directly to BitTorrent users||Sent to torrent site owners|
|Pages not removed from sites||Pages removed from sites|
|Notices available immediately in our database||Takes up to 2 days to remove content|
|All notices accepted||Notices filtered|
1 "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: the Legal Landscape", Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, November 2003, https://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/ArticleDocuments/419/PeertoPeer.pdf.aspx
* Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper was released by Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis, and the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull MP on July, 30 2014, http://www.ag.gov.au/consultations/pages/onlinecopyrightinfringementpublicconsultation.aspx (Australia)