The story so far
Australian consumers are currently slugged with inflated prices and geoblocks on overseas digital content.
This lack of access to legal, affordable content means more people may turn to illegal torrent sites instead. And the government wants to deal with this kind of piracy using pricey policies that haven't worked overseas.
In August 2014 we campaigned against the government's internet filter and policing proposals. So far, nearly 20,000 Australians have signed our petition.
Donations and support helped us produce a crowd-funded ad exposing the policies.
The federal government in June 2015 introduced an industry-run internet filter, that will let rights holders like Village Roadshow apply to have websites blocked. But, as we told the Senate inquiry into the proposed law, the filter won't stop piracy but could accidentally capture legitimate websites, like those that provide VPN services. Despite rushing the filter legislation through, businesses still haven't made any applications under the new law.
The content owners and telco industry have also collaborated to produce a draft code that would make internet providers police your internet use, sending you 'education' letters and providing your contact details to rights holders so that they can more easily pursue legal action.
We called on the Minister for Communications to step in and make sure any final code contains strong protections for consumers, and addresses the drivers behind consumer behaviour. The body responsible for registering the Code is still considering whether or not it will go ahead. The federal government has threatened to step in and legislate a Code, if the internet service providers and copyright owners fail to agree on who will pay the costs of the scheme.
The government wants to step back and let industry introduce a scheme for tackling piracy that runs roughshod over consumer rights. Consumers want better access to affordable content, not a flawed, heavy-handed scheme that won't even stop piracy.
The industry released its proposed anti-piracy code in February 2015. This code will funnel consumers into litigation, bypassing ordinary steps in the court process. Rights holders can force internet providers to send 'education notices' to customers suspected of piracy. Once three notices are received, rights holders can access personal contact details. We're calling on the Minister for Communications to step in and make sure consumers are protected, and that the reasons behind piracy are addressed – timeliness, availability and affordability of content.
In March, we told the Minister that we don't want this "education" scheme. The Code is currently being considered by the body responsible for its implementation, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
In May 2015, we appeared at a Senate inquiry to explain why a proposed internet filter won't work, and why we should be focusing on increasing access to affordable content instead. We were also involved in a consultation process for the internet filter policy in 2014. Unfortunately, in June 2015, the internet filter legislation was passed. We will stay involved in this campaign by making sure our politicians are kept accountable if legitimate websites are caught by the filter.
In July 2012, we responded to a parliamentary inquiry on international IT price discrimination.
We called on the government to investigate if geoblocking should be legal. The inquiry recommended clarifying the law, to help consumers get around geoblocks.
We also created a how-to guide, which shows you how to bypass geoblocking.