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Government strikes out on internet policy

Consumer group urges Government not to punish Internet users 

21 February 2014

CHOICE is calling on the Federal Government not to introduce so-called 'three strikes' anti-piracy measures, which it says will push Australia into the digital dark ages.

Attorney-General George Brandis raised the possibility of measures such as a graduated response scheme and internet piracy filter, in a speech on Friday 14 February.

Under a graduated response scheme, consumers receive escalating warnings for alleged infringement of online copyright and may face penalties including fines, reduced bandwidth and disconnection of internet services.

"Three strike schemes have proven to be ineffective and costly in other countries. They have also undermined the rights of consumers to due process," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.1

"If implemented in Australia, these measures would push up the price of internet access without any impact on piracy.

"Nobody supports internet piracy but punishing consumers is not the answer. The best way to stop piracy is to make it easier for Australians to pay for content like movies and television series at internationally competitive prices.

"The main driver of piracy is frustration, as Australians look overseas for flexible, affordable and timely content. Piracy in Australia is driven by a market failure, plain and simple.

"The Government should be embracing the internet as a source of innovation and development, not restricting it."

CHOICE welcomes comments from the Attorney-General that the government will seek to engage with Internet Service Providers in establishing a scheme, however we stress that given the very real risks for internet users, consumers must be consulted as well. 

"Any discussion on how to address online piracy must examine how industry can make content more available to consumers. Lack of access to legitimate content is the elephant in the room, and it's time that industry addressed it in a meaningful way." 

CHOICE is launching a petition urging the government not to introduce a three strike policy. Consumers can sign it by visiting

1: In its first three years of operation, France's three strikes scheme resulted in just 4 prosecutions and 3 actual convictions, despite millions of allegations of infringement. Under New Zealand's three strikes scheme, rights holders don't even have to provide evidence for their allegations of infringement.

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